A deed is the legal instrument required to transfer ownership in real property from the grantor, or "the seller," to the grantee, or "the buyer." Mississippi has specific requirements that must be met for the transfer of ownership to be valid.
There are several types of deeds that can be used, each offering different protections to the grantor or grantee after the transfer.
Non-warranty deeds offer no protection to the grantee. Instead, they protect the grantor by eliminating his responsibility to the grantee if any issues arise after transfer. A deed without warranties only transfers the interest that the grantor had during his ownership. If any defects existed before he owned it or arise after the transfer, the grantor is not responsible for any losses the grantee suffers as a result. In Mississippi, a quitclaim deed is one example of a non-warranty deed. It transfers ownership with no guarantees, meaning the grantee bears the risk that the grantor does not even own the property. For this reason, a quitclaim deed is reserved for specific transfers, usually between spouses after a marriage or divorce, or a transfer by inheritance after the grantor’s death.
In Mississippi, real property transfers are generally completed with a general warranty deed. The warranty deed provides the grantee/buyer with clear title -- free from any outstanding mortgages, liens or third-party claims of ownership -- and insures that if any defects arise or are discovered after the transfer, the grantor/seller will defend against those claims and compensate the grantee for any losses that result.
Another warranty deed sometimes used is a special warranty deed. It provides some of the same protections as the general warranty deed, but limits the grantor’s responsibilities to only those defects that arose during his period of ownership. He has no duty to defend against defects that already existed, but were unknown, when he took possession of the property.
A deed must contain specific information for a property transfer to be valid. First, both the grantor and grantee’s full legal names and addresses must be present. The legal address of the property being transferred must also be present, including the county, city and legal description, i.e., metes and bounds. The purchase price, referred to as the consideration paid for the property, should be on the deed. If the transfer is a gift, inheritance or due to a marriage or divorce, the consideration, though nominal (usually $10), must still be on the deed. Lastly, the type of deed must appear on the document, as well as the specific warranties the grantor is responsible for. The deed must be completely in writing and both the grantor and grantee must sign it. Their signatures must be notarized, affirming the parties’ identities and their understanding of the transaction.
Once signed and notarized, a Mississippi deed must be recorded. The deed must be presented to the Recorder of Deeds in the county where the property is located. The transfer takes effect when signed and accepted by the grantee. However, recording provides notice to the public that the property was transferred. For the grantee to protect against any claims that arise from defects in title, the deed must be recorded. If it turns out that a third party has a valid claim of ownership, that claim supercedes the grantee's ownership if he never recorded his deed.