Deed FAQ’s: When do I get the original copy, what if I lose mine or need to modify it?
Answering questions we commonly get from clients about property deeds
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When you buy a home, the deed is your legal proof of purchase, so many homeowners are mindful to keep a copy of their deed handy. We regularly receive questions from clients surrounding deeds — when will I receive the original copy, what happens if I lose my deed, and are there different types of deeds?
Let’s answer some of these common questions.
When will I receive the original copy of my deed?
The seller’s attorney will give the original deed to the buyer's attorney at closing. That original then gets recorded at the clerk’s office of the local municipality. The clerk’s office scans and records the document into the land records and then sends it to the buyer or their attorney.
The amount of time it will take for the buyer to receive the deed back from the town can vary. In some towns, it will take only a few weeks. Other municipalities, such as Bridgeport, are known to take over 6 months to return the deed.
Note: A deed is different than the title, see our blog post for an explanation.
What happens if I lose the original deed?
Some homeowners like having their original deed on hand for reference, but it’s not necessary. If you ever lose your deed or need to access it, you can request a copy of it from the town clerk, and you do not need to present the original copy when you sell or refinance your house.
We do still recommend that homeowners keep the original copy, as it can save them the hassle, time, and money of obtaining another copy.
When the owner sells their home, a new deed will be created for the new owners, so there is no need to keep the deed to the home after selling it.
What if I need to make a change to my deed?
The steps for changing, adding, or removing a name from a deed are fairly straightforward and only require a few notarized signatures. In all cases, a new deed must be created to replace the existing deed, as a deed cannot be changed once it is recorded on the land records.
If someone marries, they’re not required to change the deed to include their married name, but it is recommended to avoid any issues. To update a name, you would need to meet with an attorney or notary to sign an affidavit that would then get recorded on the land records.
To add a name, a new deed would need to be created and the present owner on the deed would need to sign that in front of an attorney or notary before it would get recorded on the land records.
To remove someone from a deed, you will need their consent and signature. The person being removed will need to sign a separate deed – usually a quitclaim deed – to essentially transfer or relinquish their portion of ownership over to the other owner.
Are there different types of deeds and which one do I need?
There are three types of deeds that buyers and sellers commonly encounter, so let’s quickly run down how each are used.
A quitclaim deed is most commonly used in non-sale sale transactions, which can include transferring property among family members or spouses or transferring property ownership to a living trust. Quit claim deeds are also used when the title needs to be remedied, such as someone being removed from a deed.
This type of deed is not used in sale situations, as it does not verify the seller’s ownership of the property or offer any guarantees or warranties that the title is good and free of liens or claims.
A warranty deed, on the other hand, does confirm a seller’s ownership and legal right to sell, and does ensure that the title is clear. The seller also promises the buyer that they will defend the buyer from all claims made by third parties. A warranty deed is the type of deed most commonly used in sale transactions.
Special Warranty Deed (or limited warranty deed)
This type of deed acts just like a warranty deed with one key difference: The seller only guarantees the buyer there are no liens, encumbrances, or other title issues from their time as the owner.
There are no warranties for issues predating the seller’s ownership, and the buyer will be responsible for resolving any claims made by a third party as a result of prior owners. For this reason, a limited warranty deed is seen as riskier than a general deed. This deed is more commonly used in foreclosure sales.