What Happens If You Lose a Quitclaim Deed?

Real estate deeds act to transfer property ownership between parties. Without a valid deed, you can't prove you own the property. If you lose your quitclaim deed, it can cause various problems that might require legal action to resolve. It's always a good idea to keep the deed to your property in a safe place.

Quitclaim Deed

Quitclaim deeds are used to transfer the grantor's interest in the property to the grantee. It doesn't guarantee a clear property title, like a warranty deed does. Because of this, quitclaims are commonly used between related parties when someone is being added or removed as an owner. For example, if you marry someone who already owns a home, your spouse can use a quitclaim deed to grant you ownership rights.

Recording

After the deed is signed and notarized, it should be recorded with the county clerk, country registrar or equivalent officer. When you record a deed, it becomes part of the public land records for the county. The next time a title search is completed, the grantees listed on the quitclaim deed are listed as the current and legal owners. It's not a requirement to record a deed, and failure to record a deed doesn't make it invalid. However, recording a valid deed is the only way to establish legal ownership. After a deed is recorded, the original is returned to the grantees.

Losing a Recorded Deed

If you happen to lose a quitclaim deed that has been recorded, it's more of an inconvenience than a major problem. You can obtain a certified copy from the clerk or registrar for a small fee. She will stamp or endorse the copy to show it's certified from county records.

Losing a Deed That Hasn't Been Recorded

If you lose a deed that has not been recorded, this could cause bigger problems. In the best of worlds, the grantor agrees to sign a new deed with the same notary, who should keep records of the documents he notarizes so he can review the situation. If the grantor refuses to do this or it's otherwise impossible to obtain the grantor's signature, you still own the property, but you won't be able to prove it to anyone. If someone else were to try to claim your property, it could turn into a legal battle because you can't present a deed to prove ownership.

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