The easiest way to add a spouse to the title of a home is with a quitclaim deed — a document used for a no-warranty transfer of real property from a grantor to a grantee. A quitclaim deed doesn't guarantee that the seller owns the house without legal encumbrances; that requires a more complex legal document than a quitclaim deed. But a quitclaim deed is the usual choice for real estate ownership transfers among relatives. A quitclaim deed designed to add a spouse as a 50 percent owner would transfer ownership from the sole original owner (grantor) to both the original owner and spouse (grantees).
Obtain a blank quitclaim deed. If you are consulting with an attorney, the attorney will provide one. If you are doing it yourself, you can use a generic form and modify it as necessary for the regulations in your state. The commerce departments of many states offer a quitclaim deed specific for that state.
Fill out the deed as indicated. Fill in all necessary blanks, including the full names of both grantor and grantees.
Notarize the quitclaim deed. That involves signing and dating the document before a notary public to make it official. In most states, only the signature of the grantor is required, but a few states require the signatures of both grantor and grantee. Some states also require that another witness besides the notary be present.
Take the notarized quitclaim deed to your local county clerk's office and have it officially recorded. There will probably be a fee to record the deed.
Note that when structuring a quitclaim deed to add a spouse, the original owner is both a grantor and a grantee on the deed.
Some states do have additional requirements for quitclaim deeds (e.g., well disclosures).
- The Red Carpet Broadcast: Quit Claim Deed; Quickly Transfer Your Property to a Family Member
- Mortgage Fit: Quitclaim Deed: Document Transferring Property Interest
- QuitclaimDeed.com: Adding a Spouse to Your Real Estate Title After Marriage
- HG.org. "Contracts 101—Warranty vs Quitclaim Deeds." Accessed Aug. 12, 2020.
- Realtor.com. "When Do You Need to Get a Quitclaim Deed?' Accessed Aug. 12, 2020.
- DivorceNet. "Interspousal Transfers Versus Quit Claim Deeds." Accessed Aug. 12, 2020.
- California State Board of Equalization. "Property Ownership and Deed Recording," Page 7. Accessed Aug. 13, 2020.
- Note that when structuring a quitclaim deed to add a spouse, the original owner is both a grantor and a grantee on the deed.
- Some states do have additional requirements for quitclaim deeds (e.g., well disclosures).
Clayton Browne has been writing professionally since 1994. He has written and edited everything from science fiction to semiconductor patents to dissertations in linguistics, having worked for Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Steck-Vaughn and The Psychological Corp. Browne has a Master of Science in linguistic anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.