If you need to change the title on your house in California, be sure you have handled all steps in the process correctly. Otherwise, you might not have the rights you think you do. On the other hand, you might retain ownership responsibilities you no longer should have.
What is Title on a House?
The title to a property defines who owns the building or the land on which it sits. The name or names on the title, which also refers to the “listed owner,” have the legal right to do many things with the property, including:
- occupy the property
- transfer ownership
- sell the property
You probably have heard someone refer to “holding title” on a property. This sounds as if the owner possesses a physical document. Although a physical record may exist, the possession of this document does not guarantee title or ownership. Instead, the chain of title determines ownership of a property. You can review the chain of title by doing a title search. Such a search will show who is listed as the owner of the property now as well as who has owned the property in the past. If there are no mortgages or other debts (liens) attached to the property, then the title is clear.
Deeds Have Different Purposes
A deed conveys ownership in property from one person to another. The deed identifies the name of the grantor (person in possession of the property) and grantee (the person whom the property is being transferred or sold to).
Different types of deeds convey different legal interest. For example, a quitclaim deed transfers property to a grantee with no kind of guarantee that the title is free from any liens or that another person can claim it. On the other hand, a grant deed (a different kind of deed) assures the grantee that no one else has a right to the property.
Changing Title on a California House
To change the title on a deed, you must record a new deed with the county recorder’s office.
First, decide how you would like to hold the title. If you own a home with your spouse, then you might want to hold the title as community property. Title could involve a right of survivorship or revocable trust.
Secondly, you must fill out the right deed documents. Selecting the correct documents involves evaluating how you will hold the deed, then locating the proper paperwork online. For example, title companies typically offer a variety of different types of blank deeds online. Just remember, a do-it-yourself deed that is filled out incorrectly might not change the title on your property the way you intend. When this happens, it could make things complicated when you want to sell the house in the future. We often see people who are dealing with the adverse effects of changing the title on their house or other real property without professional help. Unfortunately, errors in this critical step of changing title could cost someone thousands of dollars to fix.
Third, you must record the documents correctly to change the title. Failure at any point in this process can affect your title and have serious long-term effects.