California Quitclaim Deed

California Quitclaim Deed

Transfer property in California quickly and easily using this simple legal form. You can use a quitclaim deed to:

  • transfer property to or from a revocable living trust
  • transfer property to one spouse as part of a divorce
  • transfer one co-owner’s interests to another co-owner
  • transfer property you own by yourself into co-ownership with someone else
  • change the way owners hold title to the property
  • and more

Includes Declarations of Exemption from Documentary Transfer Tax forms.

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Product Details

Legally transfer property in California with this simple form

Using a quitclaim deed is a common and simple way to transfer property.  It conveys whatever interest you have in a piece of property without making any promises about the type of interest you’re conveying.

You can use Nolo’s California Quitclaim Deed to do the following and more:

  • transfer property to or from a revocable living trust
  • transfer property to one spouse as part of a divorce
  • clarify an ambiguity about inherited property-- for example, by giving up potential rights to inherited real estate
  • settle uncertainties about other kinds of claims -- for example, by relinquishing the rights to an easement
  • transfer one co-owner’s interest to another co-owner  -- for example, when one co-owner buys out another
  • transfer part of your interest to a new co-owner -- for example, by transferring property you own by yourself into shared ownership with someone else
  • change the way owners hold title to the property -- for example, by transferring title from joint tenants to tenants in common, or the other way around.

Nolo's California Quitclaim Deed includes up-to-date instructions for preparing a quitclaim deed, getting it notarized, and recording (filing) it with the county recorder. You'll learn: 

  • how to prepare your quitclaim deed
  • how to prepare a declaration if the transfer is tax-exempt
  • how to prepare a preliminary change of ownership report, and
  • how to record your deed.

Nolo has dozens of products created just for California residents. Check out Nolo's list of California products.

Additional Technical Support FAQs

FAQs

What do I need to do to prepare and record a quitclaim deed?

  • Fill in the deed form.
  • Print it out.
  • Sign the deed and get your signature notarized.
  • Make a photocopy for each party to the transaction.
  • If the transfer is exempt from local transfer tax, print out a declaration explaining why.
  • Fill out a Preliminary Change of Ownership Report.
  • Record the deed at the county recorder's office.

What are some common uses for quitclaim deeds?

A quitclaim deed conveys whatever interest -- if any -- you have in the property. It makes no promises whatsoever about the type of property interest being conveyed. A quitclaim deed is commonly used when you want to:

  • Transfer property to or from a revocable living trust.
  • Transfer property to one spouse as part of a divorce. For example, say you are getting divorced, and you and your spouse agree that you should keep the house. Your spouse executes a quitclaim deed, giving you any interest he might have in the house. Once you've recorded the deed, the public record will show title insurance companies, banks, and potential buyers that your ex has no community property interest in the house.
  • Settle an ambiguity about inherited property. For example, suppose your father's will didn't make it clear whether you, your brother, or both should inherit his house. You and your brother agree that you will take the house and he will take some other assets. He executes a quitclaim deed, transferring to you any interest he might have in the house.
  • Settle uncertainties about other kinds of claims, such as an easement. For example, say you want to sell your house, but the buyer is concerned because your neighbor has been using your driveway to get to the back of her property and might have the legal right (called an easement) to use the driveway. Your neighbor could sign a quitclaim deed, giving up any rights she might have (including any easement) in your property.
  • Transfer one or more co-owners' interests to another co-owner. For example, if three siblings own property together and one buys out the other two, those two could sign a quitclaim deed to transfer their interests to the sibling who's buying the property.
  • Transfer part of your interest to a new co-owner. For example, if you hold title to property in your own name, but want to change it so you hold title with another person as joint tenants or tenants in common, you could use a quitclaim deed to transfer your interest from yourself alone to both of you together.
  • Change the way owners hold title to the property. For example, if you and your sister own property as joint tenants, but want to change it so that you hold title as tenants in common, you could use a quitclaim deed to make that change.

What do I need to know about transfer taxes?

Local governments tax all sales of real estate within their boundaries. But if no money is changing hands, no tax should be due. If you're not sure whether or not your transfer is subject to tax, consult a lawyer.

If the transfer is subject to the tax, call the county recorder to find out the amount of the tax, and then enter it in the "amount" field. You must pay the tax (to the county recorder) at the time you record the deed.

Generally, a transfer is exempt if it's:

  • between spouses or registered domestic partners who are dividing property in contemplation of divorce if a court has issued a judgment or order dividing the property; or the spouses, in contemplation of divorce, have signed an agreement about how to divide property
  • a gift, or
  • to or from your revocable living trust.

If your transfer is not subject to the documentary transfer tax, you need to print out a simple statement (declaration) explaining why. You'll record your declaration along with the deed. This kit contains two declarations that will do the job. For a declaration you can sign, go here.

  • If you and your spouse (or registered domestic partner) are dividing property, use the "Declaration of Exemption From Documentary Transfer Tax: Division of Marital Real Property" form. Check the first box if a judge has officially dissolved your marriage; check the second box if you and your spouse have made your own agreement about property in contemplation of divorce (dissolution). Enter the transferor's name, address, and the city and county in which the declaration is being made.
  • If you're making a gift (including transferring property in or out of your revocable living trust), use the "Declaration of Exemption From Documentary Transfer Tax: Gift of Real Property" form. Enter your name, address, city, and county.
You must sign the declaration, but you do not need to have your signature notarized.

How should I identify the new owners and their new title?

In this field, you'll need to clearly identify the new owner and how he, she, they, or it (a business, for example) is taking title. Here are some examples.

  • To an unmarried recipient: "to Pablo Santiago, an unmarried man, as his sole and separate property"
  • To co-owners as tenants in common: "to Stefan Bowsky and Hannah Strauss, as tenants in common"
  • To a married couple, as community property with right of survivorship: "to Henry Anderson and Melanie Anderson, as community property with right of survivorship"
  • To a married couple as regular community property: "to Henry Anderson and Melanie Anderson, husband and wife, as community property"
  • To registered domestic partners as regular community property: "to Henry Anderson and Robert Ishikawa, registered domestic partners, as community property"
  • To a minor under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act: "to Joan Goodman, as custodian for Jacob Okoye until age 22, under the California Uniform Transfers to Minors Act"
  • To a partnership: "to Elm Street Books, a partnership"
  • To a corporation: "to WebTalk Enterprises, Inc., a California corporation"

Caution: Name each owner. Don’t try to deed property to a group, such as "to my children.” Even a seemingly simple term like "children" can cause confusion when stepchildren, adopted children, or out-of-wedlock children are involved. There’s no reason not to name each person you want to own the property.

How should I enter the legal description of the property?

It's crucial to get the legal description of the property correct on the deed. Copy it from the old deed, being very careful not to make an error. Check it by having someone read out loud from the old deed while you follow along on the new one.

Common kinds of legal descriptions include:

  • Metes and bounds. A metes and bounds description describes the perimeter of the property. It starts and ends at an identifiable point.
  • Township/Range. This is based on a survey system that divides the state into a grid. The north-south lines are called ranges, and the east-west lines are called townships. The property is identified by where it sits on the grid.
  • Reference to a recorded map. A description can simply refer to an approved subdivision map or official city or county map (also called a plat) that was recorded with the county. For example, "Parcel 35 of Country View Estates subdivision, a map of which was recorded in the Contra Costa County plat books at book 498, page 1213, on January 14, 1986."
  • Name of the property. It's very unusual, but you can refer to a piece of property by name if it's generally known that way and you don't have another description. (Cal. Civ. Code Section 1092.) If, for example, you are transferring the "Cartwright Ranch," and ­everyone will know which property that means, you're all right.

What size paper should I use to print my deed?

Print your deed on regular letter-sized (8.5 x 11-inch) paper. County recorders won't accept any other size.

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5 Minutes saves you at least $200! by Sandra R.
so easy to complete, why wasting money on lawyers if all you need is 5 minutes on Nolo, notarizing and recording is a piece of cake as well - this was quoted by an estate lawyer to me for $300 - you do the math! (Posted on 4/24/2018)

Did the job by Sandra J.
Forms were just what we needed looked good and did the job. (Posted on 11/28/2017)

Quitclaim by Anonymous
was exactly the forms I needed and they worked. (Posted on 5/18/2017)