- Do Your Research
- Obtain the Proper Documents
- Complete the Forms
- Find a Notary
1. Do Your Research
Before filing a quitclaim deed, do your research to determine whether it’s the best instrument for the scenario. Although it’s a fast and efficient way to transfer property, it typically only makes sense under certain circumstances.
A quitclaim deed does not guarantee that the person relinquishing their rights (known as the guarantor) is a valid property owner because a title search is not required. Plus, it does not contain any protections for the new owner (known as the guarantee) if the guarantor decides to claim an interest in the property in the future. So, it only works in scenarios where you can trust that the guarantor will not dispute the transaction later on.
In addition to researching quitclaim deeds, you should also do preliminary research to prepare for filing. First, find the local county clerk’s office in your area, where you will find the proper forms and file the paperwork. Also, try to locate the current deed for the property because you may need some information from it to complete the necessary documents.
2. Obtain the Proper Documents
Next, you’ll want to obtain and complete the proper documents. You can find the forms at the County Clerk’s Office, Recorder’s Office, or Assessor’s Office. You can also find templates available online; however, be sure to verify their validity with the proper local authority because some counties have specific requirements for content and formatting.
You’ll also need to obtain a preliminary change of ownership report (PCOR), which you can get from the county clerk or recorder. The PCOR is a questionnaire that requires information about the transfer, such as the parties involved, the purchase price, and the terms of the sale. You’ll also need to complete a Documentary of Transfer Tax or Notice of Exemption to prove you paid the appropriate taxes or qualify for an exemption, which can also be obtained from the County Recorder.
3. Complete the Forms
Once you have the necessary forms in your possession, you’ll fill them out with the appropriate information. A quitclaim deed will require the following information:
- A legal description of the property as described on the existing deed
- The parcel number of the property
- Name and address of the guarantor
- Name and address of the guarantee
- Proof of taxes paid or qualified exemption
4. Find a Notary
In addition to completing the forms, you’ll also need to have them notarized. You must sign the documents in the presence of a notary authorized to authenticate documents in the county where the property is located. You can find notaries at most banks or government buildings, including the county recorder or clerk’s office. Just bring valid identification such as a driver’s license or passport.
Once you’ve completed the forms and have them notarized, you’ll want to file them at the County Recorder or Clerk’s Office. But make sure to bring all of the forms, including the PCOR and tax documents. The documents should be filed in the county where the property is located, even if the guarantor or guarantee lives in another location.
When you file the documents, you must pay a small recording fee which varies depending on the county. The price is anywhere from $6 to $21 for the first page, then up to $3 for any additional pages. Also, be aware of any tax implications imposed when transferring the property.
No, you do not need a lawyer to file a quitclaim deed in California. The form is simple enough, and you can file it on your own as long as you fill it out properly and have it notarized. However, it’s a legally binding contract without the standard covenants and protections of a typical deed, so it may be wise to consult an attorney with any questions.
- When Gifting Property
- To Transfer Property to a Business or Trust
- During a Divorce Settlement
1. When Gifting Property
A quitclaim deed comes in handy when transferring property without a traditional sale. A common example is a close family member gifting a home to another relative or an aging parent transferring ownership to their children before they pass away.
2. To Transfer Property to a Business or Trust
Another common reason you may use a quitclaim deed is to transfer your property to a business entity, such as an LLC, to enjoy tax advantages or legal protections. You may also use a quitclaim deed to transfer the property to a trust for estate planning.
3. During a Divorce Settlement
It often makes sense to transfer a property using a quitclaim deed during a divorce settlement. If you jointly owned your home during the marriage and want to give up your rights, a quitclaim deed is typically the fastest method.
A quitclaim deed is a great way to quickly transfer property ownership without going through the standard process required with a traditional home sale. However, most sales require more due diligence and paperwork to protect both parties in the event of a title dispute or other legal issue. Therefore, a quitclaim deed is not recommended for most standard property transfers but only in specific circumstances where the probability of a title issue is minimal.