How to Quitclaim a Jointly Owned Property in Texas

By Beverly Bird

Quitclaim deeds don’t receive a lot of respect in Texas. Texas is a community property state and this compounds the limitations of such deeds. Under community property law, both spouses equally own everything acquired during the marriage. This means that only half the property can be conveyed by deed, unless both spouses sign it.

Jointly-Owned Community Property

When a married individual purchases property in Texas, his spouse is entitled to a half-interest if they divorce, even if he buys the property with his own income. He can only bequeath half of it in his will, because the other half belongs to his spouse. If he dies intestate, without a will, his spouse retains her one-half share -- the court will distribute the other half to the decedent's heirs, if any. If he had no children by another marriage or relationship, his surviving spouse receives his 50 percent. Otherwise, his half passes to his children. However, joint deeds with specific rights of survivorship override probate and intestacy laws in Texas. When such a deed exists, the property passes automatically to the surviving spouse. In this case, she can quitclaim her 100-percent interest to anyone she likes, simply by signing a quitclaim deed and transferring the property. However, she must receive full ownership of the property first.

Quitclaim Deeds

In many respects, quitclaim deeds are empty promises. They convey one individual’s interest in a property to someone else. They don’t convey the property itself, but only ownership rights. They don't even guarantee the grantor has any interest to convey. Theoretically, an individual can quitclaim his interest in his neighbor's home, without having any ownership stake in that property. In this case, he quitclaims nothing, and in Texas, this is perfectly legal. However, when he does have an interest in the property, a quitclaim deed transfers that interest to the deed's grantee, the person receiving it. In a community property state such as Texas, the grantee in the deed would co-own the property with the grantor’s spouse. He would receive 50 percent of the property, the grantor's share.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Use in Divorce

In a divorce situation, when property is being transferred between spouses, a quitclaim deed can be appropriate. If one spouse is signing off on her community property interest in a divorce settlement, for example, if she elects to take other assets of equal value instead, she can convey her share of the property to her spouse with such a deed. He would then have a 100-percent interest in the property, which he can quitclaim to another individual.

Conveyance by Both Owners

The only effective way to quitclaim jointly owned property in Texas is for both spouses to sign the deed. This might be the case if they wanted to liquidate the property, so each could take their interest in cash. However, if they sold the property, lenders and title companies usually require a different sort of deed. Typically, such transactions are conveyed with deeds that guarantee the owners have a 100-percent interest in the property to give.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to Get a Divorced Spouse Off a House Title


Related articles

Adding an Ex-Spouse to a Deed After a Divorce

Once a divorce is finalized, the law treats ex-spouses as if they were never married to each other. Protections otherwise afforded to spouses no longer exist for the former couple. If you own property, you can add your ex-spouse as an owner of property, but doing so raises a number of potential legal problems.

Can a Spouse in California Leave an Inheritance to Someone Else?

Mistress, grandson, personal trainer or Greenpeace; a married person in California can leave his property to anyone he likes when he dies. The state's community property law plays a role in dividing up marital property between spouses, but it does not restrict a spouse's right to leave his share of the marital property -- as well as all of his separate property -- to whomever he likes.

What Happens to Joint Property When Someone Dies Without a Will in Pennsylvania?

One of the advantages to holding property in joint names is that it may avoid the probate process. In Pennsylvania, estates must pass through probate even when a decedent dies intestate, which means without leaving a will. The probate process moves ownership of a decedent's assets to his heirs or beneficiaries, so it's necessary when no other way exists to effectuate the transfer. When title vests with another individual automatically, as with some types of joint property, probate isn’t necessary. Disposition of the joint property when there is no will is often determined by how title to the property is held.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Tenants in Common in a Will

When title to property -- usually real estate -- is held by tenants in common, each of those tenants owns a portion of ...

In Illinois, What Happens to a Tenancy in Common When There Is a Divorce?

When two people marry, the couple will share their property. Sometimes, couples may want to formalize the situation by ...

Is a Quitclaim Deed on a House Binding in a Divorce?

Often, a divorcing couple's biggest asset is the home they own together, and this home must be split with their other ...

Will a Quit Claim Deed Be Reversed by Divorce in Texas?

Texas allows spouses and others to transfer real estate by quitclaim deed, and spouses often make such transfers when ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED