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Understanding Deeds: A Guide for Florida Real Estate Transactions

Posted by Kim G. Bosshardt | Jun 24, 2024

As a real estate attorney in Florida, I frequently encounter questions about deeds, and what they are. Deeds are essential documents in any transaction, especially in a real estate transaction, serving as the legal instruments that convey property ownership from one party to another. If you would like to understand further, continue reading to learn what deeds are, their importance, and the different types of deeds.

What is a Deed?

A deed is a legal document that transfers ownership of real property from the seller (grantor) to the buyer (grantee). It includes a description of the property, the names of the parties involved, and the signature of the grantor. For the deed to be effective, it must be delivered to and accepted by the grantee. Once the deed is recorded in the county where the property is located, it becomes part of the public record.

Importance of Deeds

Deeds are crucial because they:

  1. Establish Ownership: They provide legal proof of ownership and the transfer of property rights.
  2. Protect Rights: Deeds outline the grantor's warranties and covenants, protecting the grantee's rights to the property.
  3. Ensure Clarity: They help prevent future disputes by clearly defining property boundaries and ownership details.
  4. Public Record: Recording the deed in the public record ensures transparency and can be crucial for securing financing and insurance.

Types of Deeds in Florida

In Florida, several types of deeds are commonly used, each offering different levels of protection and warranties:

  1. General Warranty Deed

    • Description: This deed provides the highest level of protection for the grantee. The grantor guarantees that the title is clear of any encumbrances or defects, regardless of when they arose.
    • Usage: Typically used in standard residential and commercial real estate transactions.
    • Benefits: Offers the grantee full protection through the grantor's covenants of seisin, right to convey, against encumbrances, quiet enjoyment, warranty, and further assurances.
  2. Special Warranty Deed

    • Description: This deed also provides warranties, but they are limited to the period during which the grantor owned the property.
    • Usage: Often used in commercial transactions or when property is conveyed by entities like banks or corporations.
    • Benefits: Protects the grantee against defects or encumbrances that arose during the grantor's ownership, but not before.
  3. Quitclaim Deed

    • Description: This deed offers no warranties or covenants. The grantor simply transfers whatever interest they have in the property, if any.
    • Usage: Common in situations where property is transferred between family members, to clear up title issues, or when the grantor's interest in the property is uncertain.
    • Benefits: Quick and straightforward, but offers no protection to the grantee regarding the quality of the title.
  4. Life Estate Deed

    • Description: This deed allows the grantor to retain possession of the property for their lifetime, after which it automatically transfers to a designated remainderman.
    • Usage: Often used in estate planning to avoid probate.
    • Benefits: Provides a way to manage property succession while maintaining use during the grantor's lifetime.
  5. Enhanced Life Estate Deed (Lady Bird Deed)

    • Description: Similar to a life estate deed, but with the added flexibility that the grantor retains the right to sell, mortgage, or otherwise deal with the property during their lifetime without the remainderman's consent.
    • Usage: Popular in Florida for estate planning.
    • Benefits: Allows for a smoother transition of property upon death while retaining control during the grantor's lifetime.

Conclusion

Understanding what deeds are and their implications is necessary for any real estate transaction in Florida. As a board certified real estate attorney, I can help guide you through the process, ensuring that the appropriate deed is used and your interests are protected. Whether you are buying, selling, or planning your estate, consulting with an experienced attorney can provide peace of mind and safeguard your property rights.

If you have any questions about deeds or need assistance with a real estate transaction, feel free to contact my office at 352.240.3218.

About the Author

Kim G. Bosshardt

Board Certified Real Estate Attorney

TOP-RATED TITLE INSURANCE AGENCY

Serving Gainesville and throughout Florida

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