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No More Deed Confusion: Examining the 6 Most Common Deeds in California

If you've purchased a home in California, you're probably familiar with a Deed of Trust which is used in the state instead of a Mortgage. But, did you know that there are more than 10 types of deeds that relate to property transactions? Each have their own unique characteristics and legal implications. In this article we'll explore the 6 most common deeds in California.

  • Quitclaim Deed: This type of deed is often used in situations such as divorce, family transfers or clarifying questions about property ownership. A quitclaim deed is a legal instrument used to transfer the property rights of the grantor to the grantee without any warranty or guarantee of clear title. It essentially conveys whatever interest the grantor has in the property at the time of the transfer. It does not provide any guarantee that the property is free from encumbrances or other claims. Quitclaim deeds are quick and straightforward, making them a popular choice when there is a high level of trust between the parties involved.

  • Grant Deed: A Grant Deed offers a moderate level of guarantee, implying that the property hasn't been transferred elsewhere, and that there are no undisclosed encumbrances. Grant deeds are widely used in California real estate transactions. They help to establish legal ownership and confirm that the grantor has not conveyed the property to someone else.

  • Deed of Trust: Deeds of Trust are used in California instead of the traditional Mortgages used in other states. This legal document serves as a means of securing real property as collateral for a loan. Deeds of Trust transfer the legal title of a property to a third party known as a trustee. The trustee holds the title to the property until the loan is repaid. This allows for foreclosure if the borrower defaults on the loan.

  • Special Warranty Deed: This type of deed guarantees that the property hasn't been encumbered during the grantor's ownership. However, it doesn't protect against claims arising from events that occurred before the grantor owned the property. Special warranty deeds are often used in commercial real estate transactions or when the grantor wants to provide some level of assurance to the grantee without assuming full responsibility for the property's history.

  • Inter-Spousal Transfer Deed: This deed is specifically designed for transferring property between spouses in California. It is often used during divorce proceedings or when one spouse wishes to transfer property to the other without any consideration. Besides facilitating the legal transfer of property, it can also help maintain property tax benefits.

  • Trust Transfer Deed: A Trust Transfer Deed is a legal document used in real estate transactions to transfer real property into a living trust. It is commonly used in estate planning to ensure a smooth efficient transfer of property to designated beneficiaries upon the death of the property owner, removing the need for probate.

Understanding the various types of deeds is crucial for anyone involved in property transactions in California. Each type of deed offers different levels of protection and assurance and choosing the right one depends on the specific circumstances of the transaction. With a solid 22-year track record, Notary Long Beach-Mobile Notary & Apostille has expertly notarized thousands of real estate documents for first-time buyers, sellers and individuals refinancing their properties.


Kimberly D. McKendell, the owner of Notary Long Beach-Mobile Notary & Apostille, is a mobile notary public based in Long Beach who has completed thousands of notarizations since 2001. Call her for all of your notary needs. She specializes in apostilles and authentications, real estate documents, living trusts, medical records, estate planning documents, title transfers, patent forms, international adoptions, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and power of attorney documents.

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