How to Change How a Property Title Is Held in California

How to Change How a Property Title Is Held in California
••• Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

To change the way title is held on a property in California, a grantor (the person giving away title) must sign a transfer deed to the grantee (the person or entity receiving the change in title). Three main types of transfer deeds exist – grant, warranty and quitclaim deeds – and each has its own implied warranties and uses.

To Whom It Is Given

You need to select who you want to give title and right to before completing a transfer deed. In California, you can hold title in a variety of ways, including sole ownership by an individual or entity; jointly by individuals or entities like corporations and estates; or as community property.

Type of Transfer Deed

Next, determine the proper transfer deed to use for changing title. In California, the most common transfer deed is a grant deed and is common in real estate escrow. A grant deed implies that the person signing it has the express right to convey the property.

A quitclaim deed does not have any express or implied right on behalf of the signer, and does not guarantee a property is free of liens. This type of deed immediately releases the grantor's rights to the property to the grantee.

How to Complete the Transfer

You'll complete the transfer deed by filling in the legal address of the property where the change of ownership is occurring. A physical address is not sufficient. You can obtain the legal address by contacting any title company. The legal address includes the tract, map, book and page of a parcel.

The deed should also state the full name of the person receiving the conveyance and also state how the person will hold title. For example, if you are conveying title to John Smith who is single and he will be holding title by himself, the conveyance should read "hereby transfers to John Smith, a single man."

An individual can change the way he holds title by granting to himself with the corrected vesting. For example, changing status from a single man to a married man the right to the sole and separate property.

Notary Public Is a Must

You'll need to sign the deed in front of a notary public and record the deed at the county recorder in the county of the property's location. You must record the deed for it to be enforceable. By recording it, public notice is given as to the transfer and the county will mail the original to the person named for the new ownership.

In California, the law requires you to give a thumb print to the notary public on any deed that changes or conveys title. This is to prevent fraudulent transfers.

Things to Consider

When the deed is taken to the county recorder, you should ask for a certified copy of the original because it may take several weeks for the county to return it by mail. If you want to check on the disposition of the ownership in the future, you can ask a title company to prepare a property profile that will show the owners of record and how they are holding title.

The California Civil Code defines community property as property purchased either by a husband and wife together or by a husband or wife individually. California Civil Code defines joint tenants as two or more persons in equal shares with the right of survivorship.

Transfer deeds have important legal ramifications and you should have legal counsel review them before you complete and sign the title change.