What You Need to Know About Virginia Deed Requirements

A deed is any legal document establishing an interest, right, or property ownership. Here’s everything you need to know about Virginia deed requirements.

In Virginia, courts most commonly use deeds to transfer real estate ownership. Deeds permit current owners, also known as grantors, to transfer property to one or more new owners, also known as grantees. Virginia accepts three deed types: general warranty deeds, special warranty deeds, and quitclaim deeds.

Requirements for a Deed in Virginia

For Virginia to validate a deed, it must contain the following:

  • The deed must be in original or first-generation printed form.
  • The deed must be written in printed ink or typed ribbon copy and adhere to Virginia’s recording requirements.
  • Each individual must underline or capitalize their name when it first appears on the deed.
  • The first page of the deed must list the name of the person or entity who drafted the deed.
  • The deed must include all of the grantor’s and grantee’s names.
  • The deed drafter must state the basis for the exemption on the face of the deed if the deed is exempt from recordation tax.
  • The deed must adhere to the county’s paper size, plats, margins, and font size.

Three Types of Deeds in Virginia

Virginia recognizes three types of warranty deeds:

General Warranty Deed

A general warranty deed provides a full, unlimited warranty of the title. The form of deed guarantees the owner has good title to the property, not limited to the current owner’s time of ownership. Therefore, the current owner is still responsible for any title issues to the property.

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Special Warranty Deed

Unlike a General Warranty Deed, a Special Warranty Deed provides a limited warranty of title, which solely applies to the period when the grantor owned the property. With a special warranty deed, the grantor takes no responsibility for issues related to the property upon selling the property to the grantee.

Common uses for special warranty deeds include:

  • To transfer property to a trust—like a living trust—in the grantor’s control,
  • To transfer property to a business that the grantor owns;
  • For sales of commercial or multi-family residential property,
  • To transfer property to a new owner that is purchasing title insurance on the property and is not concerned with the limited warranty of title;
  • In any other circumstance where the current owner does not want legal responsibility for property title problems arising before the current owner owned the property.

A Quitclaim Deed

A quitclaim deed provides no warranty of title. A quitclaim deed does not address the current ownership as obtaining a clear title to the property. Therefore, a quitclaim deed grants the new owner any interest in the property.

Common uses for quitclaim deeds in Virginia include transferring property:

  • To a spouse or family as a gift,
  • To an ex-spouse following divorce,
  • To change the nature of the marital property,
  • To a living trust or business owned by the current owner,
  • To someone who will own the property along with the current owners,
  • From someone who no longer wishes to hold the title.

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Additional Forms for Deeds in Virginia

Unlike the previously mentioned types of deeds, the following are two deed forms defined by their ability to avoid probate:

Virginia Transfer-on-Death Deed Form:

A modern deed form to transfer real estate at death without going through probate and without sacrificing control of the property during the owner’s lifetime.

Life Estate Deed Form:

A deed form to transfer property at death but with significant drawbacks (including loss of complete control over the property during the owner’s lifetime.

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