By Sharon Frankenberg,
Attorney at Law

Conveying ownership of real property requires a writing. This writing is called a deed.  Deeds are good as between parties without registration;  however, registering the deed is necessary to protect the grantee against grantor’s creditors and purchasers from him without actual notice of the deed.

Registration of deeds must be done at the office of the Register of Deeds of the county where the property is located.  There are fees that must be paid when the deed is recorded, including state transfer tax and state mortgage tax.  There are several types of deeds used in Tennessee.

One commonly used type of deed is the warranty deed.  A warranty deed transfers ownership of real property from one party to another.  The party conveying the property is referred to as the grantor and the one receiving the property is the grantee.  The warranty deed is called a “warranty” deed because the grantor makes certain promises or warranties.  The grantor warrants that he or she has good title and will defend that title against all claims.  Also, the grantor promises that he or she is in possession of the real property, that he or she has the right to convey it, that the property does not have any encumbrances against it and that grantee will be entitled to the quiet enjoyment of the property.

Special warranty deeds are typically used by corporations and banks when they convey real property.  These deeds make warranties but limit them to certain parties or certain claims.  This is the case because often the bank has never occupied the property and is therefore not familiar with all aspects of the property and its history.

Quitclaim deeds transfer all of the grantor’s interest in a parcel of real property to another party.

The only promise made in a quitclaim deed is, basically, “I give you whatever interest in this land that I have, if any.”   Quitclaim deeds are sometimes used to clear up defects in deeds.  A purchaser should be very careful before accepting only a quitclaim deed to the real property he or she just purchased.  Further inquiry into the status of title should be made.

Trustee’s deeds are sometimes referred to as Substitute Trustee’s Deeds or Successor Trustee’s Deeds.  These deeds convey property from trustees to grantees.  According to Black’s Law Dictionary, a trustee is “one who holds the legal title to property for the benefit of another, while, in a broad sense, the term is sometimes applied to anyone standing in a fiduciary or confidential relationship to another, such as agent, attorney, bailee, etc.”  Trustee’s deeds are often used to convey real property after the trustee has conducted a foreclosure sale.  There are limited warranties made in a trustee’s deed similar to those in a special warranty deed.

A deed of trust is similar to a mortgage and is commonly used in Tennessee.  In a deed of trust the legal title to the real property is placed in one or more trustees, to secure the repayment of a sum of money or other conditions.  So when you borrow money to buy a house, you have to sign a deed of trust which pledges your house to the lender until the loan is paid in full.  If the loan is not paid and goes into default, the trustee will sell the house at a foreclosure auction and transfer it by trustee’s deed to the purchaser after the foreclosure sale.

If you need any kind of deed, contact an attorney to get advice and assistance with your unique situation.  Sharon Frankenberg is an experienced attorney licensed in Tennessee since 1988.  She is a sole practitioner who handles foreclosures, landlord-tenant, probate, collections and general civil matters.  She represents Social Security disability claimants and represents creditors in bankruptcy proceedings. Her office is in Knoxville and she may be reached at (865)539-2100.