Saturday, February 16, 2019
Ask the Expert

Is The Deed You Have, The Deed You Need?

By Alfred V. Nicoletti, Esq.

Buying or selling a home can be a stressful situation. From trying to find the perfect home to the perfect neighborhood, the best schools for the kids, a fair price… the type of deed used often becomes an afterthought. The type of deed used is either to protect the home against hidden risks, liens, and claims by others, to clean up title issues, or to avoid probate altogether.

  1. General Warranty Deed: The most common deed in real estate; it warrants that the title is good, protected, marketable, and free of debt or other liens. The warranty is enforceable in court and promises that the seller or transferor will defend the title from any and all claims made.
  2. Special Warranty Deed: Typically given by sellers of commercial property, it gives only a “limited” warranty of title. The difference is the time period. The seller or transferor only warrants against problems, claims, or a “cloud” on the title during the seller’s ownership of the property, nothing before.
  3. Quit Claim Deed: A quit claim deed transfers ownership interest with no warranties that title is good. It makes no assurances that the seller even owns the property they are selling. These deeds are often used for quick fixes to cure “cloud” title problems. These “clouds” can affect the value of the property, your ability to get financing, title insurance and closing the deal. A quitclaim deed is very useful for transfers between spouses, family members, divorcing spouses, adding a new spouse to the title after marriage or to genuinely clear up title issues.
  4. Personal Representative’s Deed: Think Wills, Trusts, and Probate. In Florida, a dead person’s (or decedent’s) estate generally must go through probate to clear up title issues. The personal representative (or PR) appointed for the estate, has authority to sell or transfer the property to people outside of the estate as long as it is in the best interest of the estate. The PR executes a personal representative’s deed and the deed is recorded in the property records of the county where the property is situated. It provides proof of ownership change from the deceased person to the named person in receipt.
  5. Lady Bird Deed. (If you’re thinking “Lady Bird” Johnson, you are correct.) First created for “Lady Bird Johnson” from President Lyndon Johnson, the deed holder can sell, mortgage, or even give away the property without the consent or permission of the people listed. It immediately transfers title to the people you have named, barring any Florida law restrictions. It also provides an effective estate planning step in avoiding probate and also to avoid creditors that may arise out of nowhere. This deed is a wise choice for those who own multiple properties and want their heirs to avoid probate.

There are multiple types of deeds which inevitably cause confusion. Having your real estate attorney involved in any real estate transaction will usually yield major benefits. It is always recommended that you consult with a licensed Florida attorney. Florida has certain laws in place to protect spouses and minor children making it important you know what type of deed should be used in any purchase, sale agreement, and in estate planning.

Alfred V. Nicoletti is an Attorney at the Law Offices of Dennis R. Haber, PA, in Miami, Florida. Alfred is licensed to practice in Florida. You can reach Alfred at or at 305-256-3002.

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