Ownership of property is often a joint affair. For married couples, there is usually a deed of trust showing both parties as owners on the property. In other cases, an entire family may own a house or a piece of land together. Ownership of property can be changed and modified using a document called a quitclaim deed. This process is relatively simple, but the consequences of ownership change are significant.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
When you transfer the deed of a house to a relative, you bestow upon them the ownership of the property.
Transfer to a Relative
Transferring ownership can mean a couple of different things. It is possible to transfer ownership to a relative and at the same time maintain your own ownership; in this case, you and your relative would be co-owners of the house. However, you can also transfer ownership entirely to your relative, removing your name and giving your relative full ownership rights. The critical difference is in the way you fill out the quitclaim deed.
A quitclaim deed is not a contract in the general sense. Rather, the deed is the actual transfer of ownership on the property. This is called conveyance. If you are the current owner and your relative is the prospective owner, his name would be listed under "grantee" and you, as the owner, would be listed under "grantor."
It is important to have a notary public witness the signing and notarize the quitclaim deed. It is also possible to use a quitclaim deed to remove yourself from the deed, leaving another individual who is already listed on the deed as the sole owner. This is often the course of action taken in a divorce.
The warranty deed is the assurance given by the "grantor," or the current owner, that the property is free of liens and attachments. It is to assure the "grantee," usually when the house is being sold, that the house is free and clear of all debts and liens. This is different from the quitclaim deed because the warranty deed does not represent conveyance; no ownership transfer takes place when this deed is completed.
Once a quitclaim deed is recorded at the local registry of deeds, the transfer of ownership is complete and permanent. However, ownership of the property can always be modified. In order to do so, however, it requires the consent of all parties now listed as owners on the property. Therefore, if your relative was added to your house as an owner, you must obtain his consent before adding another party to the house in the future.
Based in Eugene, Ore., Duncan Jenkins has been writing finance-related articles since 2008. His specialties include personal finance advice, mortgage/equity loans and credit management. Jenkins obtained his bachelor's degree in English from Clark University.