Property Deeds: They Aren’t All the Same
When you sell or purchase real estate you probably already know that the deed to the property transfers from one person to another and that the deed is recorded in the public records. But a deed is not just a deed; there are actually various kinds of deeds, all which serve a very specific and unique purpose. Making sure you have or use the correct deed can be very important, depending on your situation.
The General Warranty Deed
A general warranty deed is the standard deed that is transferred in most common real estate purchases.
The deed warranties title—that is, it is proof of transfer and ownership in the public records. It also is proof that whomever you purchased the property from, can legally transfer it to you, as the chain of general warranty deeds from the property’s creation to the present, passing from owner to owner over time, establishes a valid and legal chain of ownership or title.
Special Warranty Deeds
In some cases, particularly in commercial properties, the person transferring or selling the property knows or believes that it owned the property—but it can’t guarantee anything before its ownership. A special warranty deed essentially says that the seller has little or no knowledge of the status of the deeds or chain of title, from before the seller took ownership of the property.
Quitclaim deeds are quick and often used when family members pass property to one another or to pass property from one spouse to another in a divorce—but a quitclaim deed provides no warranty or guarantee of the chain of ownership. The seller or transferor is essentially transferring the property “as is” with no representations as to the validity of title or as to the prior chain of title.
Life Estates and Enhanced Life Estates
Sometimes a grantor wants to still use the property as he or she has been using it but wants to transfer actual legal ownership of the property.
In these cases a life estate deed can be used. Once the person using the property (the remainderman) passes away, full title to the property transfers to the new owner. Because of this, life estate deeds are often used in estate planning because the transfer of the property happens outside of the probate system, and the transferor before death can remain in the property without disruption tio his or her situation.
Similar to the life estate is the enhanced life estate deed. In an enhanced life estate deed the grantor not only continues to live in or use the property but retains all powers that a full legal owner would have, including the power to mortgage the property and even power to revoke the deed itself at any point, or sell the property.
Should the grantor pass away, then the grantee takes ownership of the property, again outside of the probate process.
What kind of deed do you need? Let us help you with your real estate law needs. Call the West Palm Beach real estate lawyers at The Law Offices of Larry E. Bray today.