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California deeds, part 1

Ask the LDA

Series: California deeds | Story 1

This article (part 1 of 2) will help you understand California deeds, including the different types of deeds and available options, when transferring real property interests.

We have tried to answer many of the most frequently asked questions about assignments of title in California, provide a basic understanding of simple terminology relating to real property, and explain the function of the most common deeds utilized by California real property owners.

Grant Deed

The most used type of deed, a Grant Deed, is a written instrument by which title to, or an interest in, real property is transferred from one person or legal entity (grantor) to another (grantee). A Grant Deed does not guarantee or warrant a good title in the grantor, although it does imply an absence of encumbrances on the estate conveyed. The term "encumbrances" includes taxes, assessments and all liens on real property; therefore, the accurate listing of all current encumbrances is a necessary protection for both parties, if the property is so encumbered.

Quitclaim Deed

There is no warranty or implied covenants as to the title or as to the freedom from encumbrances. The Quitclaim Deed uses wording such as " ... do hereby remise, release and forever quitclaim to ... ," rather than the unqualified "grant(s)" as used in the Grant Deed. The Quitclaim Deed is often used to clear a "cloud on the title," or to relinquish a possible legal interest held by the grantor. Make certain this is the right deed for what it is you wish to accomplish.

Interspousal Transfer Deed

This deed transfers an interest in real property between a husband and wife only (and former spouses). Interspousal Transfer Deeds are usually used in conjunction with the dissolution of a marriage, or upon marriage, or when adding a new spouse to one's title. This deed contains language regarding interspousal transfers under the Revenue and Taxation Code, and exclusion from reappraisal under Proposition 13.

Trust Transfer Deed

This deed is used to transfer property to a revocable trust; a short-term trust not exceeding 12 years; a trust where the trustor, or the trustor's spouse, is the sole beneficiary; a change to the trustee holding title, or a transfer from trust to trustor, or trustor's spouse, where the prior transfer to the trust was excluded from reappraisal and for a valuable consideration. This deed should also contain language citing the Revenue and Taxation Code, and exclusion from reappraisal under Proposition 13.

Deed of Trust

A Deed of Trust is utilized by a borrower (trustor) to convey "bare legal" title to the subject property to a neutral party (trustee), to secure an obligation (usually the payment of a promissory note) payable to a lender (beneficiary). The trustee (usually a corporation) gives instructions to issue a Deed of Reconveyance (when the obligation has been paid in full) or to begin foreclosure proceedings because the trustor is in default on the loan. The trustee is given a "power of sale" (non-judicial foreclosure) and proceeds from the trustee's sale will apply as payment toward the defaulted obligation. These documents are also referred to as "mortgages" or "liens," and are recorded in the county where the property is located.

Diana Wade is a Legal Document Assistant. She can be reached at (661) 821-0494 or [email protected]. Diana is not an attorney; she can only provide self-help services at your specific direction. Kern County LDA #185, ex 4/11/23.