A deed is a written record describing who owns title to a parcel of real property. Deeds must be signed by the seller and delivered to the new owner to be valid. Once the deed is valid, the transfer is generally complete. Quitclaim deeds are often used between parties that know each other; reversing the transfer usually requires executing a new deed.
Quitclaim Deed Uses
When an owner transfers his title to a parcel of land via a quitclaim deed, essentially he is simply giving up any and all interest he had in that land to the new owner -- no other promises or guarantees are in place. This means that if the grantor (the person transferring title) did not actually have valid title to the land in question, the grantee (the person receiving title) actually receives nothing but a piece of paper. For this reason, quitclaim deeds are generally used between parties who know each other and the property at issue very well. When a couple divorces, for instance, one spouse may quitclaim all interest in the land to the other spouse.
Quitclaim Deed Requirements
To be valid, a quitclaim deed must conform with the relevant state laws. State laws may vary slightly. In general, a quitclaim deed must state the name of the grantor and the grantee and include a legal description of the property. Specific granting language is required; often "Grantor quitclaims all interest in the property described below to grantee" suffices. The deed must be signed by the grantor. Some laws may require the deed to be notarized. When it is signed and delivered to the grantee, the transaction is complete; the grantor no longer can claim any interest in the parcel of property at issue.
Reversing a Transfer
Reversing a quitclaim deed can be tricky; generally, the answer turns on timing. If the deed is not valid -- meaning that it does not comply with state laws -- the parties can mutually agree to walk away from the transaction. If the deed is valid, and it has been delivered to the grantee, the grantee can choose to execute a new quitclaim deed and deed his interest back to the grantor. Additionally, the grantor could claim the deed is invalid for reasons such as fraud or misrepresentation; challenging the deed on such grounds requires legal action.
Property transfers have the potential to affect the legal rights and obligations of the parties involved. Reversing a quitclaim deed may require legal action, especially if the grantee is unwilling to deed the property back voluntarily. Before entering into a land transaction involving a quitclaim deed, the parties should consult with a property law attorney.