Deeds and Trusts

A deed is the document that transfers ownership of real estate. It contains the names of the old and new owners and a legal description of the property, and is signed by the person transferring the property. A deed must always be notarized and filed in the public records; it may also have to be witnessed (depending on the state and type of deed). You can't transfer real estate without having something in writing, which is almost always a deed. This section describes the various types of deeds (such as quitclaim and warranty deeds); which ones are used in different situations (such as to transfer real estate in a divorce or in a house sale); and variations in state laws and practices regarding deeds. It includes information on deeds that are not used to transfer property, such as a deed of trust (basically just a version of a mortgage), commonly used in states such as California.