Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jun 19, 2018

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A quitclaim deed is a legal document used when one person wishes to surrender an interest in shared property. This instrument should be filed with the local recorder’s office. However, even if it is not filed at the time of signing, or not filed at all, the quitclaim deed is still legal. Though filing and recording this document is recommended and provides certain protections for the buyer, it is not a requirement for legality. 

Legal Requirements for a Quitclaim Deed 

To be legally valid, the person surrendering the property, as well as the recipient, are both required to sign the quitclaim document and have it notarized and witnessed. Once this is done, the document is official. Even if the person who surrendered the property passes away in the interim, the buyer may still file the document. The signature of the previous owner is sufficient for legality. This means that the property became the new owner’s property immediately after the quitclaim deed was signed. However, the buyer should still take steps to get the quitclaim deed recorded at the local county offices. Recording a deed provides possible legal protection should the ownership of the property be questioned at a later time. This step is highly recommended for simplification purposes, although it won’t make any difference legally, provided the owner has the document available as proof if required.

If you need help filing any necessary papers to be certain your ownership interest is protected when a quitclaim deed was not recorded, consider consulting a real estate attorney.