A Guide to Understanding the Different Transfer Deeds in Missouri

If you have ever transferred property in your lifetime, you probably know that property is transferred through a deed. But, did you know that there are different kinds of deeds? Did you also know that different deeds provide different levels of protection to the grantee (the person receiving the property)? Well, if you don't know anything about deeds, you better start paying attention because you are about to learn something.

Let's start with the basic definition of a deed: a deed is an instrument that transfers title or ownership of a property from one party to another. Deeds are required to contain certain information such as the names of the parties involved, a description of the property being transferred, the amount of consideration given for the property, and the signature of the parties involved.

Types of Deeds

There are a number of different types of deeds in Missouri, but the most common are the general warranty deed, the special warranty deed, and the quitclaim deed.

General Warranty Deed - The general warranty deed is the most common deed used in real estate transactions today and it offers the greatest amount of protection to the grantee. When one receives property via general warranty deed, the grantor (person conveying the property) is guaranteeing that the property is: a) owned by the grantor, and they are able to convey it; b) the property is free of any liens or encumbrances - other than any encumbrances expressly stated; and c) that they will defend the title of the property against any party asserting a claim of ownership against the property - including claims made by persons prior to the grantor's ownership of the property.

Special Warranty Deed - The special warranty deed is very similar to a general warranty deed, but does not offer the same level of protection to the grantee. The main difference between the general warranty deed and the special warranty deed is that, in a special warranty deed, the grantor only agrees to defend title against those asserting a claim during the timeframe that the grantor was in possession of the property. The difference being that the grantor will not defend against claims that are being asserted for the time period before the grantor was in possession of the property.

Quitclaim Deed - The quitclaim deed offers the grantee the least amount of protection in a real estate transaction. The quitclaim deed does not contain a warranty of good and marketable title, and is not favored in more complex real estate transactions. Basically, the quitclaim deed is a "transfer of whatever ownership interest I have in the property - if any." Quitclaim deeds are still used today, but are generally reserved for transfers between spouses and family members.

Now that you know the differences between the three most commonly used deeds in real estate transactions in Missouri, you can be sure to safeguard your interests when purchasing a property. However, if you are considering buying or selling land in Missouri, you should always contact an attorney for help.

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