Florida Deeds Explained: What You Need to Know Before Transferring Florida Real Estate

Imagine you are purchasing or selling a property in Florida. You’ve agreed on the terms, negotiated the price, and discovered the ideal bargain. However, a formal document transferring ownership of the property from the grantor (i.e., current owner or seller) to the grantee (i.e., future owner or buyer) must be signed before you can complete the transaction. This document is known as a deed, and it is one of the most significant documents in any real estate transaction.

However, not every deed is the same. Your degree of protection or liability may vary depending on the type of deed you use.

Exploring the Various Deeds Types in Florida

There are five main types of deeds in Florida, and each has varying degrees of liability and protection for the parties involved. These deed types are as follows:

  • Warranty Deed: This type of deed offers the buyer the best possible protection. The seller warrants that there are no liens or other encumbrances on the property and that they are the only owners. Additionally, the seller consents to defend the buyer against any title claims on the property. In a standard Florida real estate purchase and sale transaction, this is the type of deed that is most frequently used.
  • Special Warranty Deed: A Special Warranty Deed gives the grantee a limited warranty of title. This specific type of deed makes no claims on the state of the title prior to the seller owning the property, but it does ensure that there are no flaws or issues with the title during the grantor’s or seller’s ownership. Special Warranty Deeds are considered the second-tier ownership document, following the Warranty Deed.
  • Quitclaim Deed: The grantee has the least protection with this type of deed. The grantor transfers any interest they may have in the property, but they do not guarantee or provide any warranties on the title’s quality or even whether they will actually have a legitimate interest in the property. The transferor is just transferring any interest that they may have in the property. This type of deed is frequently used to resolve a title dispute, following a divorce, or to transfer property amongst family members.
  • Life Estate Deed: A life estate deed is a grant of an ownership interest in real estate whereby the owner has a right to use and possess the property during their lifetime, while leaving it to their heirs when they pass. When this type of deed is executed and delivered, the grantor becomes the property’s life estate holder (also called the “life tenant”), and the grantee becomes the fee simple remainderman (i.e., the future interest holder). This type of deed is often used amongst family members and has the benefit of probate avoidance. One drawback of a standard Life Estate Deed is that the life estate holder must get the consent of the remaindermen if he or she wants to sell or refinance the property.
  • Enhanced Life Estate Deed (Lady Bird Deed): Only Florida and a few other states have this type of deed. This deed type enables a property owner to use and possess the property during their lifetime, while also giving the property to their heirs when they pass away. Lady Bird Deeds avoid the owner’s heirs having to go through the probate process. During their lifetime, the owner is still in charge of the property and is still able to sell or mortgage it without the consent of the future interest holders (i.e., their heirs).

Comparing Florida’s Deed Types

Every type of deed has its advantages and disadvantages. Some deeds are better suited for a particular scenario versus other deeds. We will contrast and analyze the key features of each type of deed and discuss when each one is often used.

Warranty Deed vs. Special Warranty Deed:

  • Warranty Deed: Guarantees a clear title and defends against future claims.
  • Special Warranty Deed: Provides a warranty, but only as to the seller’s period of ownership.

Quitclaim Deed vs. Life Estate Deed:

  • Quitclaim Deed: Offers the least level of protection, transferring any interest in the property without title guarantees.
  • Life Estate Deed: Grants a future interest to the life estate holder’s beneficiaries, while allowing the life estate holder to live in and use the property while they are still living.

Enhanced Life Estate Deed (Lady Bird Deed) vs. Other Deeds:

  • Enhanced Life Estate Deed: Similar to a life estate deed but with the added flexibility for the life estate holder to sell, mortgage, or alter beneficiaries without the beneficiary’s permission.

Real Life Examples of Deed Usage:

  • Warranty Deed: Ideal for when you buy a property in a standard purchase and sale transaction. This is the most common deed type for Florida closing transactions.
  • Special Warranty Deed: Often used when purchasing a property from a developer or when buying bank-owned property.
  • Quitclaim Deed: Useful in divorce situations, where a spouse transfers ownership without warranties. Also often used between family members, or when transferring a property from your individual name to your company.
  • Life Estate Deed: Beneficial for an individual who wants to retain lifetime residence rights and pass the property to their beneficiaries.
  • Enhanced Life Estate Deed (Lady Bird Deed): This is a type of Life Estate Deed that offers flexibility for changing beneficiaries and managing the property without the beneficiary’s permission.

Which Deed Best Fits Your Needs? – Call Our Florida Deed Experts Today!

You don’t have to look any further for your deed needs in Florida. The legal team at Farshchian Law, P.A. has the expertise and knowledge in real estate, estate planning, and deed/title transfers that you can trust. Please call us at (800) 604-1871 or email us at Info@JFRealEstateLaw.com for a free consultation on how to take title to Florida real estate and our other estate planning and real estate services. We offer estate planning, real estate, and probate services throughout the State of Florida.