Legal Property Deed

Deed information by attorney Eric Torberson

What us a Deed?

A deed is a written document that conveys legal and equitable title to real property from a grantor to a grantee. A deed is not effective unless the parties can be identified. The deed is required to show intent to convey real property and signed by the grantor. The deed then must be delivered to the grantee.

What are the different Deeds?

In Texas there are 3 main deeds.

  1. General Warranty Deed
  2. Special Warranty Deed
  3. Deed Without Warranty

General Warranty Deed

In a express warranty deed of this type the seller is guaranteeing to compensate the buyer for any failure of title, all the way back to the time of the land patent from the sovereign. In Texas, that means the original grant from Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, or the State of Texas. 

this warranty runs with the land. The sellers guarentee is a promise to the buyer and all subseqyent buyers(grantees) that the title is free of defects. The grantor promises that the grantor will defend the grantee against the rightful claims of third parties to the property and the property is free of encumbrances that may interfere with the grantors ownership such and liens, leases, or easements.

The express warranty extends to all subsequent grantees and covers every potential defect in the title.

Special Warranty Deed

This deed does not allow anyone other than the grantor to be liable to the grantee for recourse regarding encumbrances. Only the immediate buyer may sue the grantor if the warranties are breached in an implied warranty deed or special warranty deed. Title defects are limited to the grantors ownership period of time.

Deed Without Warranty

A deed that conveys real property without any warranty. This is used when the parties are unsure of the grantors true interest in the property. The grantor may use this to limit his or her liability. The parties assume the risk of any interest in the property.

What is a Quitclaim Deed?

This semi-deed conveys an interest a grantor may have in property. This is not necessarily conveyance of title. A quitclaims quits any interest a grantor may have. A quitclaim in the chain of title might be a problem. Most title companies will not work with a property with a quitclaim in the chain of title.

Texas Lady Bird Deed

A Texas Lady Bird Deed (or Texas Enhanced Life Estate Deed) creates a life estate for the owner and a remainder interest. The remainder interest does not take possession of the property until the death of the current owner/possessor. The signing of a Lady Bird Deed transfers the property from a fee simple into a life estate. This then transfers title to the remainder beneficiary(s) at death without the need for probate.

The best part of the Lady Bird Deed is that the owner can change their mind about the beneficiaries at anytime before death. The owner can change the transfer at anytime without interacting or consent of the beneficiary. The owner can also lease, mortgage, gift or sell the property. This differentiates the Lady Bird Deed from the Life Estate Deed.

Texas Life Estate Deed

The Life Estate Deed allows a property owner to possess land and have it transfer at death to a beneficiary without probate. The grantor transfers title to the property to grantee(remainder-man) but retains the right to live on the property. Once the agreement is signed the beneficiary immediately has rights to the property. The owner cannot convey or mortgage the property without the consent of the beneficiary.

The current owner must keep the property as their primary residence or the property transfers as it would at death. The grantor cannot revoke the deed or change the beneficiary without consent. It is final.

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Author: Eric Torberson

Eric Torberson is a licensed attorney in Texas as well as licensed in the federal courts of the southern and western districts of Texas.