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What are the risks of using a quitclaim deed?

Quitclaim deeds are an easy way to transfer ownership of a piece of property between two people. They’re often used to take a spouse’s name off a home following a divorce, to add a spouse’s name to a deed following a marriage and to transfer property between siblings or other relatives.

But quitclaim deeds aren’t entirely without risk — even when no money is changing hands before the transfer. Here are some things you need to keep in mind:

  • Taking your name off a deed doesn’t eliminate your obligation toward any debts associated with the property. In other words, you can be removed as an owner of the family home after your divorce, but your ex-spouse needs to refinance the property into their own name to get you off the mortgage (if there is one).
  • You have no guarantees or warranties regarding the property’s title. Using a quitclaim deed allows the other party to release their interest in the property but it doesn’t ensure you that they are actually the property’s correct owner. If the property isn’t theirs to give, the quitclaim deed conveys nothing.
  • They are not good in every situation — even among family. You should never use a quitclaim deed with a stranger, but you should also hesitate to use one with a family member unless you’re 100% certain about their honesty and memory. For example, maybe your brother is willing to sell you his share of the family home dirt cheap to pay some debts — but how do you know that he hasn’t made that same deal with another sibling or an ex-business partner?

Don’t make a mistake with your quitclaim deed. Talk to a real estate attorney here in Cook County to learn more.