How to Add Names to Michigan Property Deeds

How to Add Names to Michigan Property Deeds
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Property ownership, transfer laws and deed practices differ depending on the state in which you live. Many reasons might exist that would make you want to add someone to the deed to your house. Many of these reasons involve marriage, moving in together, divorce or estate issues. If you are in one of these situations, you might be wondering how to add someone to your house deed if you live in Michigan.

Add Someone to Deed to House

The most common scenario where you might want to add someone to your deed is if you own a home and you get married. You might want your spouse to automatically be able to retain ownership of the property if you should become deceased.

Michigan has a practice known as "tenancy by entireties." This is a law that allows a husband and wife to hold a piece of property as if they were a single entity. In this case, if one dies, the other automatically becomes the sole owner of the property. If you choose this type of ownership, then one cannot sell or dispose of the property without the consent of the other.

Getting married does not automatically transfer a property to become a tenancy by entirety. Laws regarding deed transfer in Michigan also allow joint tenancy, which is joint ownership between multiple owners, such as a group of business partners. How to transfer property titles in Michigan becomes complicated in these cases because each owner only owns a portion of the property.

In the cases of tenancy by entirety and joint tenancy, a deed transfer must take place. You cannot simply add someone to the deed in most cases, and it will require a change in the form of the deed on the property. You will have to file a quitclaim deed and then file a new deed with joint ownership.

Mortgage and Deed to House

One of the most common questions about deeds is: Can a person's name be on a deed without being on the mortgage? This most simple answer is yes. A deed and a mortgage are two separate things.

If someone's name is on the mortgage and not the deed, only the person whose name is on the mortgage will be responsible for making payments. If you are added to the deed of someone else's home, you are not automatically responsible for the mortgage and payments, only if they add you to the mortgage, too.

Another common question is, can you add someone to a deed if there is a mortgage? You can add someone to the deed if there is a mortgage, but it will not change who is responsible for the mortgage. If you add someone to the property deed and you are responsible for the mortgage, your lending institution might require you to refinance the loan in both names. This might not be an option if one of the owners does not have good credit.

Divorce and Deed to House

Issues of marriage and property ownership become complicated when a divorce is involved. If you have a tenancy by entirety, then it converts to tenancy in common. One thing that many people do not realize is that transfer of the deed is different from the transfer of the mortgage responsibility.

If one of the spouses already has someone they want to add to the property, it is best not to bring this into the picture during the divorce proceedings. You will have to file a transfer of the deed to gain ownership of the property during the divorce. Then, you will have to file a quitclaim deed and then refile another deed to add the new person to the house deed.

The answer to the question, "How do you add a joint owner to a property?" is not an easy one. The easiest and most common way to do this is with a quitclaim deed and the refiling of a new deed with joint ownership. The best advice is to consult an attorney who specializes in these issues regarding the specifics of your situation.