How to File a Quit Claim Deed

Kristie Lorette McCauley
Deed and home

When you need to transfer ownership of a property quickly and relatively easily, filing a quit claim deed is one option. A quit claim deed transfers the legal ownership of the property from one party to another, and doesn't require attorneys or legal help, unless you choose to consult an attorney.

1. Consult an Attorney

Though this is an optional step, it is best to consult a real estate attorney prior to completing and filing a quit claim deed. Since a quit claim deed is not the only option for transferring ownership of a property, having an attorney review your personal situation can determine if the quit claim deed is the best way for you to transfer ownership of your property. It is optional, however, so completing and filing a quit claim deed does not require legal assistance.

2. Obtain a Form

You can obtain the quit claim deed form from several different sources.

  • Rocket Lawyer offers an option where you can enter the state where you are filing the deed and it automatically customizes the form to meet any state laws or requirements.
  • Real estate attorneys and local recording offices for the county where the property is located can also provide you with the correct form.

3. Gather the Information

Some of the information you need to complete the form can take some investigation on your part. You need the legal name of the person you are granting ownership of the property. Additionally, you need the legal description of the property.

You can find the legal description on your existing deed or you can contact the county recorder's office for the county where the property is. You also need the map number or property identification number, which can be found on an existing deed or obtained from the county recorder's office.

4. Gather Witnesses and Notary

Some states, such as Virginia, require that one or two witnesses sign the quit claim deed filing form. Some states, such as California, only require that a notary witness and complete their portion of the form prior to filing.

Review the form for your state carefully before completing it to ensure that you have the correct number of witnesses and that one of the witnesses is a notary.

5. Complete the Form

Complete the form in its entirety. Start with the first line on the form and work your way down to the last line on the form.

  • Fill in your full legal name as the current owner.
  • Write in the full legal name of the person or persons you are transferring ownership.
  • Copy the map number or property identification number, as well as the legal description, exactly as it is on your current deed or from the information from the county recorder's office.

6. Deliver the Form

Deliver the quit claim deed to the Grantee, which is the person you are granting ownership of the property. Delivering the form informs the Grantee that they are the new legal owners of the property.

7. File the Form

To record the deed, take it to the county recorder's office of the county where the property is located. Pay the fee to record the deed. The deed then becomes part of the public record, showing the Grantee as the new and legal owner of the property.

Processing times can vary from county to county. The length of time from filing to the deed showing in the public records depends on how busy the county is. Legally, the deed is recorded and ownership has been transferred once the deed is delivered to the Grantee and once it has been delivered to the county recorder's office.

Preliminary Change of Ownership Form

You also have to obtain, complete and submit a Preliminary Change of Ownership Form to the county recorder's office. This form asks you to complete questions about the buyer, seller and sales price of the property. Additionally, it walks you through the calculation of computing any transfer taxes you owe on the property.

Some states can have additional forms that you have to file, so check with the county clerk to see if any other documents are required to complete the transfer.

8. Pay Excise Tax

Some states have steps you have to take after filing the quit claim deed, while other states do not. Washington, for example, charges an excise fee. You have to pay this fee within 30 days after the deed is recorded. This is a separate fee from the recording fee. Within 30 days of the transfer, a Real Estate Excise Tax Affidavit must be completed and submitted, and the fee must be paid to the county recorder in the state of Washington.

When you file the deed at the recorder's office, ask if there are any additional fees you must pay or steps you must take after filing and recording the deed for your state.

Transfer Ownership

A quit claim deed can be the answer to transferring the ownership of a property you own. Quit claim deeds should only be used in instances where ownership isn't a question since there is no title work done to check for previous liens when using this method. In a few steps, you can relinquish ownership and turn the proof of ownership over to the new owner.

How to File a Quit Claim Deed