If you lost an original quitclaim deed before you recorded it, you need to replace it with another original. This can easily be done if the person who made the quitclaim deed voluntarily agrees to replace it. However, without such cooperation, you need a court order to replace it. If you lost the original deed after it was recorded, you can request an official copy of the recorded deed from the government office where it was recorded. The official copy can be used in lieu of the original.
A quitclaim deed is used to relinquish an ownership interest or other claim to real estate. Quitclaims are most commonly used to resolve ownership disputes, such as in a divorce, but can be used to transfer property rights as a gift or sale. Although the quitclaim deed is effective when it is properly signed, notarized and delivered to you, it is customary to record the deed with your local government office that maintains public real estate records. A recorded deed gives notice to the public of your ownership in the real estate. You must deliver the original quitclaim deed to the government office for recording. Once it is recorded, the original should be returned to you. If the original is lost, you can obtain an official copy of the recorded deed.
If you didn't record the original quitclaim deed after it was delivered to you, there is no public record of the deed. Although the deed is effective as between you and the person who signed and delivered it to you, the general public has no notice of the deed. Without a recorded deed, it is unlikely that you can engage in common real estate transactions, such as obtaining a mortgage on the property or selling it. If you lose the original deed before it is recorded, you must replace it to protect your property rights.
A lost quitclaim deed can easily be replaced by preparing and executing a new original quitclaim deed. Assuming the person who made the quitclaim -- commonly call the grantor -- is on good terms with you and available to make a new deed, you can simply explain the situation to the grantor and ask for a new deed. Because there are some costs associated with preparing a quitclaim deed, such as notary fees, offering to take care of all expenses associated with preparing the new deed is appropriate. Making the situation as convenient as possible for the grantor increases the likelihood that she'll comply with your request.
If the grantor can't or won't voluntarily replace the lost quitclaim deed, your only recourse is court action. The type of action you need to take depends on the circumstances. For example, if the original deed was made by your ex-spouse as part of divorce proceedings, you can make a request to the court that your ex-spouse cooperates with you to replace the lost deed. However, if the quitclaim deed was made by a relative or friend who has died, your situation is far more complicated. Although the real estate laws vary among the states, you most likely have to file a quiet title lawsuit and sue all persons who could potentially claim ownership to the real estate to establish your ownership rights to the real estate.
- Lawyers.com: Quitclaim Deed Overview
- Ventura County Clerk and Recorder/Registrar of Voters, California: Ordering a Copy of Official Records
- Reno County Register of Deeds Office, Nevada: Frequently Asked Questions
- Deed.com: Quit Claim Deed -- An Unrecorded Quit Claim Deed Can Still Be Valid
- Law Library - American Law and Legal Information: Quiet Title Action
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