It’s not uncommon to transfer a home deed to a family member to ensure your property goes to the desired relative after your death. Transferring your home deed to a family member is a major decision requiring much thought and careful consideration. The transfer process is straightforward and relatively simple. It’s important to remember, though, that once you complete a home deed transfer, the new owner immediately takes over all ownership rights.
Here’s what you need to know about transferring a home deed.
Once you decide to transfer your home deed to someone else, the process is rather simple. There are three common ways to transfer the deed: quitclaim deed, transfer-on-death deed, and warranty deed.
With a quitclaim deed, you literally “quit” any claim you have to the property, and transfer it to another person. Usually you do not need a lawyer to help file a quitclaim deed. You can do it yourself in a few easy steps:
- Obtain the deed from the register of deeds for the county in which your property is located.
- Fill out the deed, carefully stating the name of the grantee (the person to whom you’re transferring your home).
- Sign the deed in front of a notary.
- Deliver the deed to the grantee, either by hand or certified mail.
- The grantee is responsible for recording the deed at the county recorder’s office in order to become part of the property’s legal record.
Quitclaim deeds are the most common way to transfer property to a family member when money isn’t involved. It’s also the typical method for gifting property. A quitclaim deed doesn’t guarantee any particular claims to the property. Therefore, the grantee or a future buyer cannot sue you if it turns out you didn’t have full ownership at the time of transfer.
If a transfer-on-death (TOD) deed is available in your state, it may be a better option than a quitclaim deed. It’s much like any other deed, but it enables you to maintain control of your property until your death. A TOD deed enables your property to avoid probate after death, just like a quitclaim deed, but you still have full control while you’re alive.
Twenty-two states permit TOD deeds. Check with your county recorder’s office to determine whether a TOD deed can be used in your area. Requirements for the deed vary from state-to-state. Be sure to sign the deed in the presence of a notary and record it yourself at the county recorder’s office. Recording a deed is the only way to ensure it takes effect after your death. You can always make another deed if you change your mind.
Warranty deeds are the most complex method of transferring a home deed. These deeds require the help of a real estate attorney. Homeowners usually use warranty deeds when money is exchanged for the property (as opposed to a quitclaim deed between family members).
There are two types of warranty deeds: special and general. A special warranty deed protects the grantee from any property claims or other issues the grantor (you) may have had while in possession of the property. A general warranty ensures that all property rights of the grantor are transferred to the grantee. This is a legal assurance against any past or future actions on the property.
Before you complete a warranty deed, conduct an online title search on your property. The title search will give you a full review of the property’s legal history to ensure the home is clean and the deed’s statements are accurate. Then complete the deed. You will need to record details about yourself and the grantee, and provide a legal description of the property. Sign the deed in front of a notary and other witnesses, if applicable. Deliver the deed to the grantee, who then must record it at the recorder’s office.
Before you transfer your home deed to a family member or another party, consider the federal and state tax ramifications. The value of your property may require that you, the grantee, or both pay gift taxes or capital gains taxes. Seek the help of a real estate attorney to walk you through any local property transfer rules and regulations.