Difference Between Wills & Deeds

Writing a will

Throughout life we acquire property in the form of houses, real estate, vehicles and savings accounts. Deciding how to divide assets between loved ones after your passing can be a confusing task. The use of wills and deeds can help to accomplish this. Wills and deeds are legal documents that grant or convey personal property from one person to another. Usually the documents are signed in the presence of a witness and recorded at the county court house. Although each accomplishes a similar task, deeds and wills are functionally different. They need to be used in different situations.



Deeds function to convey property from one party to another. In most cases, the property is a house and the land attached to the home. The grantor, or seller, "grants and conveys" interest in the property to the grantee, or buyer. The function of a will is to direct how someone's personal possessions and money is to be distributed after the individual dies. A will can include any type of property from a house to furniture, jewelry, cash and investments.


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Deeds and wills are both legal documents. In order to stand up in a court of law, both should be signed and notarized. Without this, the validity of the document can be disputed by another party trying to claim the property. Deeds are usually filed through an attorney, title company or real estate agency during the sale of a home. Wills can be drawn up by an individual and filed on record at the county recorder or kept in a safe place at home.



A few types of deeds exist in order to perform different conveyances. Common deeds include quit-claim deeds, warranty deeds and trust transfer deeds. Each of these is used in a different situation. A legal professional should be consulted to determine which deed suits your situation. A few different types of wills can be drafted, however only one is generally recognized in court or for legal purposes. A self-proving or testamentary will meets all legal standards and has been signed by a witness. Holographic wills are written documents, but not signed by a witness. Oral wills are spoken directions to other individuals; however. they are easily disputed.


Living Will

Known as a living will, this document functions to dictate how to administer medical treatment if the individual becomes incapacitated. For example, a living will can determine how long you are to be left on life support or if you are to be resuscitated. Living wills are different than other wills because they do not distribute assets or property. They only give direction if you are unable to.



The execution and completion of someone's last wishes through their will may require the use of a deed. For example, a parent passes away and the will dictates that the oldest child shall receive the house. A deed will need to be drafted and signed in order to convey the property into the child's name. Also, a deed can be used in a similar fashion while someone is still alive in order to make execution of the will easier.