Frequently, a situation arises in which two co-owners of property seek to have one of them “removed” from title. This type of situation might arise, for example, during a divorce proceeding: one spouse, either through agreement or court order, is granted sole ownership of the marital home. That spouse, typically, may wish to refinance the existing mortgage but cannot proceed until a deed establishing his or her sole ownership is recorded.
The standard instrument that an attorney would draft to effectuate the change of title in this situation is a called a “special warranty” deed. A common misconception held by a number of real estate professionals, however, is that a “quitclaim” deed is the instrument of choice in this type of situation. A quitclaim deed is NOT the preferred vehicle to accomplish this purpose and, in fact, is a disfavored form of conveyance in Maryland. The major problem with a quitclaim deed is that it provides no assurance to a grantee/purchaser as to the validity of title. The grantor, through a quitclaim deed, does not profess to own the property and purports to convey only that interest, IF ANY, he may have with respect to the property. A special warranty deed, on the other hand, provides certain assurances to the grantee/purchaser that the grantor will protect him against certain types of title problems. A special warranty deed is, typically, the type of deed utilized in Maryland to convey real estate. There are only a few very limited and specific instances where the quitclaim deed is the preferred vehicle to convey property in Maryland. One major example is where the interest being conveyed by the grantor is questionable or not fully determinable.
Common sense would dictate that a deed of equal “dignity” should be utilized with resect to all Maryland conveyances, including the simple transfer from one co-owner to another. Hopefully, this misconception regarding quitclaim deeds will discontinue in the course of time.