Deeds Lawyer in Virginia
The laws pertaining to real estate are far more complex than most people realize. Legal requirements stem from ancient property laws designed to protect the integrity of real estate ownership through the centuries.
In the modern world, that means that any transaction involving real estate is likely to require the creation of a new deed, even if all you need to do is transfer your property into your own revocable living trust. It is important to use the right type of deed, to ensure that it is worded properly, and that it is registered in accordance with jurisdictional requirements.
Types of Deeds for Real Estate
A deed is a legal document that gives someone legal ownership interest in real property. There are different levels of ownership and different types of deeds. Virginia, DC, and Maryland all recognize a variety of deed formats. These include:
- Quitclaim deeds
- General warranty deeds
- Special warranty deeds
- Transfer-on-death deeds
- Life estate deeds
- Deeds of trust
- Deeds of gift
The difference between these deeds often hinges on the guarantee of the quality of title provided by the person conveying the property.
How Title Affects Deeds
The term title refers to the legal ownership of real estate. For someone acquiring property to gain valid title or ownership, the person who is transferring the property to them must have valid title that they can pass on.
As part of the formal sale of real estate, a mortgage company will usually insist on a professional title search where someone goes through the records of the property to determine that formalities were handled correctly each time the property was conveyed. A search could reveal problems such as an improper description of the property on a deed, a break in the chain of title where records are missing, or an encumbrance on the property such as a lien or unpaid taxes.
With certain types of deeds, the person transferring the property makes a guarantee about the quality of the title.
DC, Maryland, and Virginia all use general warranty deeds and special warranty deeds. With a general warranty deed, the person selling or transferring the property warrants or guarantees that there are no defects in the title whatsoever, going back to the earliest records. This type of deed provides the greatest protection to the person acquiring the property, but it is rare.
Special warranty deeds include a guarantee that there have been no actions that would affect good title during the time that the current owner has held the property. This is much more commonly used.
A quitclaim deed does not include any guarantees about the title at all. When someone transfers with a quitclaim deed, they simply transfer whatever interest they happen to have, regardless of any defects. This is one of the simplest types of deed and used frequently to transfer property among family members.
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