Real estate (or “real property”) is a special class of property, and as such it receives special treatment. It is the only class of property that routinely has long-range claims that may exist across multiple generations of ownership. It is also the only class of property that regularly has the rights of ownership divvied up between multiple parties. Because of these and other characteristics of real estate, we have developed multiple types of real estate deeds. Which type you give or receive as a seller or purchaser of real estate can have large effects on the value of the deed and property, so it is important to know the difference between them.
The first type of deed is a general warranty deed. This is the deed that you want to receive as a grantee (receiver) of real estate, and, in some instances, one you would prefer to not grant as the grantor (giver) whenever possible. A general warranty deed is a promise from the grantor that they own the property absolutely, they are granting that ownership to the grantee, and that there are no encumbrances (easements, restrictions, liens, etc.) other than the ones expressly listed in the deed. Furthermore, the grantor of a general warranty deed guarantees the grantee that they will defend the grantee against any claims that someone brings against the deed. The grantor of a general warranty deed creates a broad and perpetual liability upon themselves to indemnify the grantee against any title problems that arise.
The second type of deed is a limited (or special) warranty deed. This deed warrants only that the grantor has not created any encumbrances during their ownership period other than those that are explicitly listed in the deed. Thus, the grantee receives no guarantees about what might have happened to encumber the land prior to the grantor’s ownership period. The grantor is only indemnifying the grantee against any claims that may arise from the period of the grantor’s ownership of the property.
The third type of deed is a quitclaim deed (not a quick claim, as many wrongfully say). This deed is exactly what it sounds like – the grantor simply gives up any claim they have in the grantee’s favor. The grantor does not warrant that they have any ownership of the property, they do not warrant that there are no encumbrances; they simply let the grantee have any interest they may have in the property. As a means for transferring ownership of property, quitclaim deeds have very limited value, but they can be useful in clearing up title issues, removing encumbrances, etc.
A fourth type of deed is a trustee deed. This deed is used by trustees of trusts or administrators of estates to transfer title to property without incurring any liability for warranties on themselves. As with other deeds, a title search is necessary to determine the quality of the title that is conveyed by a trustee deed.
If the deed to your property is less than a general warranty deed, or you suspect there may be encumbrances or other imperfections in your title, call the Indiana real estate law attorneys at McNeelyLaw LLP. We are here to help you with any Indiana real estate needs you may have.
This McNeelyLaw LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.