The deed to a piece of property is a fairly simple piece of paper -- but it's very important. It's what's actually used to convey ownership of a piece of property from one person to another.
The most common type of deed that is used for this process is called a warranty deed. It's often used when property is being bought and sold.
In general, warranty deeds contain promises, or covenants, that the seller is the true owner of a piece of property, that the property is free of any sort of encumbrances (like liens) and that there is no legal limitation on the seller's right to dispose of it as he or she sees fit.
Those covenants are important because they give the buyer a legal way to pursue compensation from the seller if any of those statements turn out to be untrue. Warranty deeds are, by far, the most protective type of deed possible from the buyer's perspective.
Quitclaim deeds are at the other end of the spectrum. They simply convey one person's interest in a property to the other, but without any promises or warranties regarding liens or other issues.
While they don't offer much in the way of protections, quitclaim deeds are still very useful. They can quickly clear up small issues with a title when some part of a record is unclear. They are also frequently used in conjunction with divorces when one half of a couple cedes his or her interest in a home to the other. They're also useful when a parent wants to give ownership of a home to a child or in other, similar, situations.
Warranty deeds and quitclaim deeds aren't the only possible methods to convey ownership in a piece of property from one person to another. There are many types of specialty deeds that can be used in specific situations. Choosing the right type of deed for your situation is an important part of a real estate attorney's job and just one way that your interests are protected.