Using a “Gift Deed” or “Quitclaim Deed” as a Present

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on January 30, 2014

Whether it’s Christmas, birthdays, Valentine’s Day or just for an anniversary present, believe it or not, you absolutely can gift away a house. It’s true. Real estate law permits that, provided you use the correct documents, in this case, a document known as a gift deed or quitclaim deed.

In California, it’s quite the piece of cake or pie to handle that. A gift deed is nothing more than a form you fill out with the Property Titleparcel number belonging to the assessor and property in question. Additionally, you must provide a photocopy of the actual property title, not to mention your own signature. It’s not legal without your autograph, as we all know. Understand, though, that a gift deed typically is utilized between two family members, not to mention by real estate law, the transfer of the deed, title and property must occur in the presence of two disinterested parties. A “disinterested” party typically would be someone with no financial interest in the transaction, which would exclude other family members, obviously. You must also know that a gift deed is something requiring the new owner to report the home and value on a federal income tax return, as it’s deemed as a “gift” and something the prior owner receives no compensation.

A quitclaim deed, however, is something slightly different. Here we have a document pertaining to multiple owners of a property, with all of them relinquishing ownership to one other family member. It’s similar to a gift deed, but without the need for disinterested parties present or inclusion on a federal income tax return. By law, in fact, the multiple owners of a property can actually receive compensation agreed upon by all parties, and the form itself doesn’t even require the parcel number listed or photocopy of the title.

Signatures require a notary present, obviously, as well, and once you send the document to the local county recorder’s office for filing, expect to pay a fee. Within two weeks, you should receive approval of the deed, and lo and behold, the property has been transferred successfully. Merry Christmas. Happy Birthday. Valentine’s Day, or Anniversary. You’ve got to love real estate law.

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