Curt: What proves that you own the property? The deed. But the deed can be very difficult. This is James Cioffi, the Juris Doctor. We go to him for free legal advice.
James Cioffi: Nice to see you, Curt.
Curt: Tell us about quit claim deed. What does that mean?
James: Well, I'd like to differentiate between quit claim and a lot of people call them quick claim deeds. There's no such thing as a quick claim deed. It's quit claim deed. I know you're aware of that, but I just wanted to make sure the public is aware because you always hear that word "quick," but it's quit, Q-U-I-T.
Curt: It may not be quick.
James: And all it's stating is whatever interest I have in the property I'm transferring to the next party. That's all a quit claim deed means. There's no warranty of title stating that I own the property. It's just saying whatever interest I have I'm transferring to you. But in my 34 years of practicing law, Curt, I've seen so many quit claim deeds prepared by individuals rather than attorneys or title companies that create clouds on title. Now you've heard of clouds on title.
James: Everything's in the cloud nowadays.
Curt: This is a bad cloud.
James: This is a bad cloud. It's a dark cloud. For instance, in Florida you want to be sure you know the marital status of the seller because of the homestead protection of the Florida constitution. If someone sells property and they're married, the spouse has to sign. So if you do not indicate the marital status of the seller, it creates a cloud on the title because we have to investigate then. Was the person married? If so, the person needed to have the spouse sign the deed, so that creates a cloud on title until that issue is resolved.
Curt: Now in the case of marriage, you can only be married or not married in Florida. You can't be separated legally or you can't have a common law marriage.
Curt: So if you're married, you're married. And if you're not married, you're not married. And you can't confuse the two.
James: Although I did have a gentleman from Thailand once who, when I asked him if he was married, he said, "You mean my United States wife or my Thai wife?"
Curt: And you said?
James: I only knew about the United States wife. I think one of them was ceremonial, but the legal one was the United States one.
Curt: Well, I've had a case in which the two people were living under the same roof, getting a divorce. She was buying a place and he was going to stay in the old home, but he had to still sign the mortgage. Why is that?
James: Because of the homestead protection of the Florida constitution. If someone's mortgaging a property, the spouse has to join in and consent to that mortgage.
Curt: But that doesn't mean the person's on the hook for the note.
James: Right, just joining in on the mortgage, not signing individually for the note.
Curt: So what other problems are there?
James: Legal descriptions. In law, you have a legal description, a lot number, not the address. The postal address is not the description of the property. I've seen so many errors in legal descriptions, Curt. People don't put the whole legal description. You have to have the plat book, the page number which identifies the actual subdivision. Because in Palm Beach County being so large, there are multiple subdivisions with the same name. So if you said lot two in Pleasant Ridge, there could be a Pleasant Ridge in Boca Raton and one in Palm Beach Gardens, so you really need to identify the plat book and page number. It's a little technical, but it requires the legal description fully as it is in any other document.
Curt: Great advice indeed. James Cioffi, our juris doctor, thanks for the advice.
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