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Property Rights: Deed in Someone Else's Name

Does the deed to your home list someone else's name as the owner? Are you considering your options on how to transfer title to yourself? This article outlines the steps you need to take to ensure you have sole property rights to your home.

If someone else has title to your property, you should verify their property ownership. Perhaps they are a prior owner of the property. The proper legal documents to transfer property title may have never been filed with your locality's recorder's office. In a real estate transaction concerning a change of ownership of the property, a deed is filed with the recorder as part of the public record. It reflects the names involved in the property transfer and memorializes real estate ownership.

To make sure you have a clear title of a home, you have to conduct a title search against the real property. The chain of title record will indicate all historical ownership interests. It will also confirm whether you are the sole owner of the property and whether any encumbrances exist. For example, you may have other family members on title, or there may be a bank lien recorded.

It is not unusual for a married couple to be listed as co-owners during the homebuying process. This is especially true in community property states (like California) where both spouses are homeowners with right of survivorship. For example, if a husband and wife are named as joint tenants on the property deed, it might be improper to remove one of them. A joint tenancy appearing on any type of deed means there is more than one legitimate new owner.

How Do You Remove Someone Else's Name From the Deed?

After you have verified that you are the only person with a claim to the property, you can take steps to clear title. After identifying the incorrectly named parties on a deed, reach out to them. A title insurance company may help you do this by reaching out to them on your behalf.

First, you should ask the wrongly named parties or party to transfer the title to you. This means they have to remove their names from the existing deed and replace it with your name. If the other party agrees for their name to be removed, you can have them sign either a quitclaim or a general warranty deed. Removing their name means they are relinquishing their property interest in the home and transferring it to you.

A quitclaim deed will allow you to have ownership rights to the property. But you won't get any legal assurances that no one else owns it or that it is not encumbered by liens or mortgages. With a warranty deed, on the other hand, the transferor guarantees that the property is not subject to liens or mortgages. It also guarantees no one else has a claim to the land.

So, you can have the grantee (the person who originally had title to the property) sign the quitclaim or warranty deed. They will be transferring their ownership rights to you and anyone else you want included in the deed.

What Should Be Included in a Quitclaim or Warranty Deed?

Both a quitclaim and warranty deed must include several elements. Some of them include:

  • Address of the property
  • The parcel number of the property
  • Name of the grantor and grantee
  • Legal description of the property
  • Form of ownership (the manner in which title is held)

How It Works in Different States

State and local laws determine the form and content of the deed. They also determine the procedures you need to follow when you sign and record the deed. Recording the deed is very crucial as your rights to the property will not be completely protected until you record the deed.

Some states require you to bring witnesses, while others ask you to notarize the signatures through a notary public. So, knowing your state's laws is crucial to ensure you are compliant. Make sure to research the specific laws of your state to determine what additional steps you need to take.

Additional Resources

An Attorney Can Help With Transferring Title of Your Property

Purchasing a house is one of the biggest investments you make in your entire life. If someone else has title to your house, you must take action to transfer title. It would be best to get legal advice from a real estate attorney to ensure your interests are protected. They can advise you on legal issues affecting the use of the property.

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