Adding family members to the title of a piece of property is a popular way to help loved ones acquire property or to avoid probate issues should one of the owners die. It is important, however, to specify the type of ownership that you want to share with your relative and to make sure that the new deed you both sign conforms to laws of the county where your property is located.
Review your current deed and any other title documents to ensure that you have legal authority to include your relative on your deed. If you are the only person listed as the owner, you own your property in fee simple absolute and may include your family member on your deed with very little difficulty. If you currently own the property as a joint tenant with other people, you will need the permission of the other owners to include another person on the deed.
Consider drafting a co-ownership agreement with your relative. Though many benefits come with home ownership, holding property comes with a cost. A co-ownership agreement can help you decide how you will allocate new costs for which your co-owner may be responsible. These could include property taxes, general utilities, association fees, and maintenance costs. Co-ownership agreements may also spell out the parties responsible for any mortgage payments and who can refinance a mortgage on the property.
Engage an attorney to prepare a deed naming you and any other existing owners as grantors and you, any existing owners and your relative as grantees. The deed should specifically state how each new grantee will hold the property. Many family members choose to hold as joint tenants with a right of survivorship because, upon the death of a tenant, other members are immediately vested with the deceased owner's share of the property without having to go through probate. If you want to divide your property and own it with your relative severally, consider holding the property as tenants in common.
Different counties have different signature requirements for deeds. Some counties may require a witness to the grantor's signature, some may require a notary, and some may require both. Consult with a local attorney who specializes in real estate law to ensure that your deed meets local laws and then record it with the county government. Recording your deed enters your deed into your county's grantor-grantee index and serves as public notice that you conveyed an ownership interest in your property to an additional person.
Jerome Evans obtained a dual degree in international affairs and modern language from the Georgia Institute of Technology and earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of Georgia School of Law.