What to Know About Changing the Title Of Your Home

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If you need to change the title to your home, there are steps you have to go through. In the United States, these steps may be different from other places, like the UK, so make sure you’re finding country-specific guidelines for changing the name on your home deed.

The following is a brief overview of what you need to know in the U.S.

The Basics

When you’re a homeowner, you have the title, which confirms that you possess the legal rights to the property and the responsibilities. Before buying your home, a title company will search to ensure there aren’t any problems in claims to the title.

Then, if you buy a house, you receive the deed.

The deed is a legal document transferring the title to you.

There are certain situations where you could need to change your home’s title. If your spouse dies, you might not need to do anything. In other situations, such as a divorce or if there’s an inheritance, you may need to get a new deed.

Can You Change the Title?

You can change the title on your deed, but it’s not the same as changing the name on the mortgage. A mortgage is your loan you get through a lender, while the deed is on file with the government, and it’s a legal ownership document.

When you have a mortgage, the lender has an interest in the property. If you don’t make your payments, the lender can foreclose. After you pay off a mortgage, your county government will usually release the property’s deed because you are the sole owner.

When Might You Need to Change the Title?

A few primary situations could create the need to change your home’s title.

First is if you get married. If you get married and decide to change your name, you should change your home’s title to reflect your new legal name. Also, if you want to add your spouse to your deed, you can usually do so through a quitclaim deed.

You might be able to create the new deed yourself, depending on where you live. You might have to get it notarized in other places and then file it with your county clerk. You may also need to have an attorney help you.

If you get divorced, you may also need to change your title. Even if you aren’t planning to sell your house, you might change your name, or the other spouse might want their name taken off the title.

Depending on where you live, you could most likely handle this through a quitclaim.

Some lenders can help you with the process if you have a joint mortgage, but you should still talk to a lawyer.

If your spouse dies, you might have responsibility for some of their debt, but most home titles don’t require any action.

If you owned the home as joint tenants with a right of survivorship, you don’t have to update the title. There’s an automatic transfer to the surviving spouse. If you decide the sell the property, you might have to provide the death certificate since your spouse’s name would still be on the deed.

If you inherit a home after the passing of a relative or loved one, you will have to update the title.

If there was a transfer-on-death beneficiary deed, beneficiaries could usually take ownership of the property without going through probate.

If you do change the title on your home’s deed, it needs to be updated everywhere consistently. Changing your last name doesn’t impact your credit. It’s added to your current report.

We want to point out that the terms deed and title are often used interchangeably, but there are legal differences.

Your title is your proof of ownership. Your deed is the physical record of the transaction that happened to give you ownership.

A title can be considered a concept, while a deed is an actual document.

The first step to actually changing a deed is to get in touch with the country registrar or recorder’s office to get a copy.

You might have one of four types: a general warranty deed, a special warranty deed, a quitclaim deed, or a special purpose deed.

Finally, once you figure out which particular type of deed you have, it is easier to know how to make any needed changes with the correct forms. If you’re ever unsure, speak to an attorney because mistakes in this area can be catastrophic.

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