Real Estate Transfers After A Divorce
By: KRISTY A.K. RODD & LISA LINDENFELSER
Two documents are needed to complete real estate transfers in Minnesota:
- a quit claim deed, and
- the parties’ divorce decree or summary real estate disposition judgment.
The quit claim deed transfers real estate title from one former spouse to the other. Some points to keep in mind when preparing a quit claim deed:
- Be sure the deed uses the parties’ current legal names as stated in the divorce decree. References to “formerly known as” or “now known as” are not necessary since the summary real estate disposition judgment indicates the name change.
- There is no state deed tax on deeds drafted according to a divorce decree under Minnesota law.
- Certificates of real estate value and well disclosures are not required for deeds given according to a divorce decree.
- Quit claim deeds are not required if the divorcing parties are only separating their joint tenancy and both will remain on the title.
- If title is held in the name of one spouse alone, and he or she is awarded the real estate, a quit claim deed is not needed. We do recommend having one signed, if possible, and holding it in your file just in case a future title examiner requires it.
- If the real estate was awarded to one spouse subject to a security interest in favor of the other spouse, a special quit claim deed form reserving a lien should be used. Be aware that some title examiners take the position that if a former spouse signs a quit claim deed after entry of the divorce decree without reserving the lien, an examiner may rely on the quit claim deed to release any lien created in the divorce decree.
The summary real estate disposition judgment is a legal document that includes only the real estate portions of the divorce decree. It can be used to avoid filing an entire divorce decree, which can be lengthy and contain sensitive information, in the public real estate records. Use of a uniform conveyancing blank summary real estate disposition judgment form will ensure that all information required by law is included.
Since a summary real estate disposition judgment is a separate order, it must be submitted to a judge for approval and entered by a court administrator. A certified copy is needed for recording in the real estate records. Alternatively, divorcing parties can file a copy of their divorce decree and the quit claim deed in the county real estate records, however, these will be available to anyone inquiring in the county real estate records and could negatively affect negotiations when the property is sold.
If the real estate is torrens and you do not have a signed quit claim deed from the non-owner spouse, you must submit the summary real estate disposition judgment to the examiner of titles for review before it can be recorded. Examiners review any involuntary transfer to confirm jurisdiction. They confirm that a summary real estate disposition judgment includes all of the real estate in the divorce decree, uses the correct legal description, and includes real estate in which the parties have an ownership interest that can be legally transferred. Many smaller counties do not have an examiner of titles on staff; parties are then charged a fee for review by a private attorney.
A three- or four-page summary real estate disposition judgment can save divorcing parties substantial money and future headaches when prepared and recorded correctly.