Q: My son and daughter own a piece of property in Wa. State, 50% each. My daughter signed her 50% over to me with a quite
claim deed, notarized, but has not been recorded. Is it a legal document ? Which one of us own the 50% ?
A: Assuming the quit claim deed conveying your daughter's 50% interest to you complies with the statutory requirements for a quit claim deed under Washington law, the deed would be a legal document enforceable against your daughter even if it has not been recorded. A deed does not need to be recorded in Washington State to be a valid legal document. On the other hand, the benefit of recording the quit claim deed is to protect your ownership interest in the property against third parties who claim an interest in the property and have no actual knowledge that your daughter transferred her interest to you. For instance (and this may get a bit confusing), if an otherwise valid quit claim deed is not recorded, it is possible for the original transferor to either re-sell the same 50% interest to a third party or to use that interest as security for a loan even after the interest was sold or transferred to you. Under these circumstances, if the buyer or lender did not have knowledge of the transfer when they purchased or mortgaged the property, and if the buyer or lender then records their deed (or, if applicable, deed of trust), then the transfer made via the original unrecorded quit claim deed may be void as against the rights of the subsequent buyer or lender. Thus, it is always advisable to record a deed as soon as possible even though that deed is enforceable against the transferor without the necessity of recording.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, please note that there may be relevant facts that would have an impact on your rights, and you should not interpret the foregoing as legal advice. Only an attorney who has had a chance to inquire about all relevant facts and to review all relevant documents can provide you with competent legal advice. Therefore, I would suggest that you consult with a local real estate attorney to evaluate your matter.
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