During your lifetime, you might change your name, particularly after a marriage or divorce. You’ll need to replace a variety of documents, including the title to any real estate you own. If you’re just wondering how to change the title on a house and not the ownership, the process is fairly straightforward. Reviewing the steps for changing your name on the title to your house will help you get this done correctly and in the least amount of time possible.
Read More: Title vs. Deed of House
Title vs. Deed
Many laypeople interchange the terms “deed” and “title.” They are not the same, however. The title is your proof of ownership, while the deed is a physical record of the transaction that took place to give you ownership, explains Quicken Loans.
Think of a deed as the proof that Mr. Smith sold you the house at 123 Main street, while the recorded title is proof that you own the house at 123 Main Street and can sell it, rent it, repair it or paint it. So, you have a title to a house, but not a piece of paper that proves that. The deed is the piece of paper proving that you own it (because it records the sale transaction and transfer of ownership).
A title is more of a concept than a deed, which is a document. When you are looking to change the name on the title to your house, you will need to make changes to the deed to change your name on the title.
Read More: How to Find a Parcel Number by Address
Do a Title Search
If you’re not sure you own the house for some reason, you can do a title search. Even if you think you know who is on the title, you might want to verify the information is correct, recommends Clever. You can hire someone to do this or have someone do it for you. They will tell you if, in fact, the title to the house is in your name and what the name is on that document.
Read More: What Is the Purpose of a Title Search?
Changing the Deed
The first step in changing your name on a deed is often to contact your county registrar’s or recorder’s office to get a copy of the deed (if you don’t have one). You can also contact your attorney or mortgage company to see if they have a copy of your house deed. Depending on how the house was transferred to you, you will have a:
- General warranty deed
- Special warranty deed
- Quitclaim deed
- Special purpose deed
Find out which type of deed you have. This is necessary so that you choose the correct deed name change form to use. You won’t always use the same deed to change your name as the one you used when you bought the house.
Talk to a professional to find out which type of deed form you’ll need, such as a quitclaim deed if you’re performing some sort of family transfer. You can get the proper quitclaim deed name change form from your county office, purchase deed forms at stationery stores or find blanks online.
Fill out the form, supplying information such as the current name on the deed (grantor), the new name you want on the deed (grantee), property address, tax ID number or parcel number and the legal description of the property. Sign and date the document and have it notarized.
You might be asked to provide proof of your name change, if that is the reason you are changing the document. Bring all of your documents to your local recorder’s or registrar’s office to submit them if you want to be sure you’ve done everything correctly. This will allow them to review the documents while you wait and help you fix any errors you’ve made.
If you’re sure you’ve done everything correctly, mail in the deed name change form and remit the fee (which should be listed on the office’s website). These fees are often $50 to $100.
Don’t Forget Title Insurance
In addition to learning how to change the title on a house, you might need to research how to change the name on your title insurance policy, if you carry any. Check with the realtor, attorney or title agent, or check with your mortgage company to see if you carry title insurance and if you need to make any changes to the policy. If you don’t follow this process correctly, you might void the insurance policy.
- You may wish to use a real estate attorney (who is also a notary). A quitclaim deed is a legal document and a conveyance error could cost you dearly.
Steve Milano has written more than 1,000 pieces of personal finance and frugal living articles for dozens of websites, including Motley Fool, Zacks, Bankrate, Quickbooks, SmartyCents, Knew Money, Don't Waste Your Money and Credit Card Ideas, as well as his own websites.