A quitclaim deed allows property owners to transfer whatever interest they may have in a specific piece of real estate. The Wisconsin statutes do not contain a specific form for deeds, but they do define what the different conveyances mean, and the minimum information necessary in each (Wisc. Stat. 706.02, 706.10(4)). To be eligible for recording, a deed also must meet all the local rules for content and format as well as the statutory requirements set forth in Wisc. Stat. 706.05.
As opposed to a warranty deed, a quitclaim deed offers no guarantees that the owner has good title or even ownership at all; it simply conveys whatever interest exists at the time of the deed’s signing. Once buyers accept it, they are left with little to no recourse against the former owner. This lack of protection makes a quitclaim deed unsuitable for purchasing real estate from an unknown party.
Yet, a quitclaim deed is fully sufficient to convey property in other circumstances. Consider the following scenarios:
- Familial transfers: Quitclaim deeds are often used to transfer property within families, for example, between parents and children, siblings and other closely related family members.
- Adding or removing a spouse: Whether resulting from marriage or divorce, a real estate owner can use a quitclaim deed to add a spouse to the title or to remove him or her.
- Transferring real estate to an LLC or corporation: Since corporate transfers often happen between closely related entities, they are usually done with this deed.
- Transferring real estate to a trust: Estate planning for subsequent generations often involves an initial transfer from a family member into a trust.
- Clearing the title for insurance purposes: In the process of researching the chain of title, title companies may find a “cloud” on it. Generally this means that someone who is not identified in the ownership history may have an interest in the property. This can be amended if the person in question executes a quitclaim deed.
- Removal of a potential interest holder: Prior to funding a loan, lenders may require someone who is not going to be on the loan, such as a spouse, to record a quitclaim deed, thus formally foregoing any future interest in the property.
Many of the above transfers are exempt from Wisconsin’s real estate transfer tax pursuant to Wisc. Stat. 77.25 as long as only nominal or no consideration is paid in exchange. Even if the transfer or removal of an interest falls under one of these exemptions, the transfer tax return form should be submitted in order to identify and document the exemption.