You want to put someone else on the title to your house. Maybe it's to add a spouse or give a child an interest in the house for estate purposes. It's pretty easy in most states but does involve filling out forms, getting signatures notarized and filing documents with the local recording office. You might do this yourself, but using a title company will prevent any mistakes that could cause problems later and is strongly encouraged. If you still have a mortgage, remember that you may need permission from your lender to add another person to the title.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
A local title company can add a person to the deed of your home, but the painless process must be done lawfully.
Know Where to File
Title companies handle details of real estate transactions every day, such as providing title insurance, researching property ownership records and filing or recording deeds. As a result, they know exactly what paperwork you need to file and where. The agency where you file paperwork to add a name to a deed varies by state, but usually is in the office of a county official such as the county clerk, recorder or registrar. A local title company can tell you where to file and help make sure everything is legally and properly executed.
Get Written Consents
You need written consent of the lender to change your deed if the home is mortgaged. You also need the consent of any other individuals already on the deed. If someone else owns the home with you, everyone must agree to change the deed. It's not enough to say that they agree to the change.
You must get your co-owners permission in writing and have it signed and notarized. A title company can locate these parties, get the consents signed, signatures notarized and documents filed with the title change. Title company experts will explain all the documents that need signed and filed to change names on the deed so you understand exactly what's happening throughout the process.
Sign the Required Forms
Once you've secured permission to add a name to your deed, you'll have to sign an official form requesting the addition. The person you are adding must also sign this document. This prevents you from granting ownership and the accompanying responsibilities to someone who doesn't want them. You can get this particular form from a lawyer or a title company.
In some states, the recording office provides a form for you to sign and have notarized. Once again, a title company will handle these chores, have the deed recorded and return the original to you if you prefer not to perform these tasks yourself.
Quitclaim or Warranty Deed
In some instances, you may wish to transfer your property to another person without retaining any ownership yourself. A title company can help with this task through a quitclaim or warranty deed. By signing and filing a quitclaim deed, you agree to transfer your interest in the property to another person. This is a common practice during divorces when the divorce settlement awards one person the house that the couple owned jointly when married. The person leaving the home files a quitclaim deed and surrenders their interest in the property.
A warranty deed is similar to a quitclaim deed, but goes a step further. A warranty deed transfers ownership of the property but also guarantees that you do own the home free and clear. You're also promising that there are no liens on the property. You could find yourself in expensive legal trouble if you grant a warranty deed and someone else comes forward with a legitimate claim on the property. This is another good reason to go through a title company who can confirm the promises made in a warranty deed.
Bob Haring has been a news writer and editor for more than 50 years, mostly with the Associated Press and then as executive editor of the Tulsa, Okla. "World." Since retiring he has written freelance stories and a weekly computer security column. Haring holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri.