Property Deed Help Guide

Property deeds are useful for quickly and easily transferring title to real estate to a new owner. LegalNature's property deed form allows you to choose between creating either a general warranty deed or a quit claim deed.


As opposed to quit claim deeds, which make no warranties, general warranty deeds make warranties to the buyer that the seller—called the grantor—is the rightful owner, the property is free from encumbrances, and the grantor will defend the title against claims from others. Review the following instructions for additional help completing your deed.

Number of Grantors and Grantees

Remember, the grantor is the party that owns the property and is selling or transferring title to the grantee. Grantors and grantees may be either individuals or business entities. LegalNature's property deed allows up to 10 grantors and 10 grantees.

The general rule when answering these questions is to add one grantor for each current property owner that will be transferring title or otherwise changing his or her ownership interest; for instance, by adding a family member to share title.

However, a married couple deeding or receiving title should be counted as only ONE grantor or grantee. For example, if a married couple owns a home and is deeding the home to another married couple, then you would select "1" grantor and "1" grantee. You will then be able to specify each spouse's information on a later step.

Note that if a grantor wants to remain an owner of the property and simply wishes to add additional owners on the title, then that grantor should be included as a grantee as well. For instance, if a grantor wishes to add his or her daughter to the title, then select "1" grantor and "2" grantees. However, if a grantor wishes to add his or her spouse to the title, then select "1" grantor and "1" grantee (since married couples are counted as one). Note that you may have to enter the same information twice if a person is both a grantor and a grantee.

Grantor and Grantee Types

You will need to specify whether each grantor and grantee is a married individual, a non-married individual, a trustee, or a business. If the party is married, then include the relevant information for the party's spouse when prompted.

If a party is receiving the property as a trustee, then the trustee should be named as the grantee, not the trust itself. The deed will state that the trustee is receiving the property on behalf of the trust. If there are multiple co-trustees, you may list the name of any one of the trustees. If a business is receiving the property, then you will name the business as the grantee and enter the name of the agent who will sign on behalf of the business. The agent should be someone with proper authority to sign binding contracts on the behalf of the business, such as an owner, executive, or manager.

You will also have the option of choosing "Grantor's spouse" as the grantee type for the first grantee. This option should be selected if the first grantor that you entered previously is married to the first grantee.

Finally, if you indicated that a grantee is married, then you will be asked whether or not that grantee's spouse will also share ownership of the property. If you select "No," then the spouse who is not receiving any interest will need to sign where indicated in the signature section. This makes it clear that the spouse willingly waived any rights he or she would have acquired to the property by being married to the grantee. Note that if you and your spouse are legally separated but not divorced, then still select "Married individual."

Grantee Ownership Type – Sole Owner or Co-Owner?

If there is only one grantee, then you will be asked whether this grantee will be receiving title as the sole owner of the property or as a co-owner. You should select "Sole owner" only if no other person will share ownership with the grantee after the deed is signed.

Select "Co-owner" if more than one person or business will share ownership of the property with the grantee after the deed is signed. This would be the case, for example, if the grantor is a tenant in common and is transferring his or her interest to the grantee. The other tenants in common would not necessarily join in the deed as grantors, since only the grantor is changing his or her interest.

You should also select "Co-owner" if the grantee's spouse will be sharing ownership with the grantee.


Grantee's Property Interest

Here you should indicate what type of joint property interest the grantees are receiving. Depending on your state, you can choose between a tenancy in common, a joint tenancy, a tenancy by the entirety or community property interest, and a partnership.

Tenancy in Common

A tenancy in common is a joint property interest in which each tenant (property owner) owns an undivided share in the whole property. Each tenant may transfer his or her interest without the need for the other tenants to join in the deed. When a tenant dies, his or her share passes according to their will or under state intestacy law when no will exists. Multiple businesses sharing ownership often choose to own as tenants in common due to the simplicity and flexibility of these ownership interests.

Joint Tenancy

A joint tenancy is the same but with a few important differences. First, each tenant owns an equal interest. So if there are four joint tenants, then each has a 1/4 ownership interest in the property. Also, a joint tenant may not sell or transfer his or her interest without the consent of the other tenants. This means that all joint tenants must sign as grantors when transferring or changing ownership and must sign together as grantees when receiving ownership. Lastly, each tenant has the right of survivorship, so when a joint tenant dies, his or her interest automatically passes to the other joint tenants in equal shares.

Tenancy by the Entirety

Tenancy by the entirety and community property interests are basically identical in nature and only differ in name. They are both similar to a joint tenancy but are for married couples. The same rules apply, including right of survivorship.

Partnership

If California businesses are sharing ownership, then they can consider choosing a partnership interest, which is similar to a tenancy in common but may offer certain advantages under state law.

Final Steps

Every deed should be recorded with the appropriate local office, usually called the County Recorder's Office or County Clerk's Office. As every county has its own specific filing requirements, we recommend contacting your local office to see if it requires any supplemental forms, whether or not it has any special requirements, and also if you need help writing a proper legal description.

  • Leave all margins blank. Our property deed sets the margin default sizes at one inch, except for the top of the first page, which is three inches to give extra space for official use only. Your local office will inform you whether you need to vary these sizes somewhat.
  • Do not staple multiple pages together unless your local office specifically permits it.
  • All signatures on the document must be originals—not copied, printed, or stamped.
  • If the seller is conveying any part of the marital homestead, both spouses must sign where indicated.

In most states, your property deed will be considered effective and executed once it has been both signed by the grantor and also delivered and accepted by the grantee. Note: the grantee normally does not need to sign; however, in a few counties across the nation, the grantee is also required to sign—especially in parts of Kentucky. Be sure to ask your local office if you think this might apply to you, or you can simply have the grantee sign it below the grantor's signature just to be safe.

Although recording is not always required, it is highly recommended that you do record as soon as possible. This will protect you from any potential adverse claims to your title by other parties. Every person listed in the deed should receive a copy of the deed and the original should be recorded. Typically, the County Recorder's Office returns the original deed back to the grantee who in turn provides a copy to the grantor.

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