The various deeds used to transfer real property are a relatively modern invention. In years gone by, sellers transferred property to buyers by performing an actual "deed," such as picking up a handful of soil from the property, handing it to the buyer and making a legal recitation in the presence of witnesses. Over time, these physical deeds have been replaced by the paper deeds we know today. In Riverside County, all deeds must be signed in the presence of a notary public.
A deed of reconveyance is a document issued by a mortgage holder when the borrower is released from the debt. Say, for instance, that you paid off your mortgage. A deed of reconveyance will be issued. It contains a legal description of the property. The deed must be recorded in the county where the property is located, and indicates that all liens have been paid in full. Frequently, deeds of reconveyance are part of the closing process in the sale of a home.
A quitclaim deed is a deed releasing a person's interest in a property. It does not state or warrant the person's interest or right to the property. Most commonly, quitclaim deeds are used to transfer property in non-sale situations, such a transfers between family members. Quitclaim deeds can also be used to add or remove a spouse on a property title or clarify ownership of inherited property.
A grant deed is a legal document used to transfer ownership of real property from the grantor to the grantee. With a grant deed, the grantor guarantees to the grantee that the property has not been sold to anyone else, and that there are no liens or restrictions on the property that have not been disclosed.
A substitution of trustee is a form that is filed in order to change a trustee. It is frequently filed when a loan on real property is paid off or refinanced, and does not necessarily reflect the name of the current property owner. In other cases, such as an irrevocable living trust, the original trustees remain in control until they become incapacitated or die, at which time successor trustees are appointed under the terms of the declaration of trust.
In several states, including California, a deed of trust (or trust deed) is the most common instrument used in financing real estate purchases. It is a deed wherein legal title in real property is transferred to a trustee and held as security for a loan between a borrower and lender. A deed of trust is recorded in the county where the property is located as evidence of and security for the debt.
Also known as a "note payable," and casually referred to as just a "note," a promissory note is a financial instrument that contains a written promise of payment by one party to another. Typically, it contains terms about the debt, such as the amount, interest rate, maturity date, as well as the date and place issued. A promissory note is more formal than an IOU, but generally less detailed and rigid than a loan contract. It is usually regarded as unsecured debt, and only requires the signature of the borrower. Bank notes and mortgage notes are common variants.
An affidavit of death is a document that verifies the identity of the deceased, and can help make the administrative tasks that follow a person's passing easier for the survivor. Financial institutions, courts and other agencies recognize the affidavit as your promise, under oath, that a person is deceased. Perhaps this person was a spouse or partner with whom you held joint property. In many instances, an affidavit of death and a death certificate are all that is required for you to close accounts, receive benefits or take sole ownership of joint property.