Adding or Changing Names on Property
Click here to download this Step-by-Step Guide as a pdf document.
Any time you make a change to the ownership of real estate, you must record a deed with the County Recorder. This Step-by-Step guide outlines the requirements and provides a sample Grant Deed with instructions.
Types of Deeds
The two main types of ownership deeds in California are the "grant deed" and the "quitclaim deed." The grant deed is used when a person who is on the current deed transfers ownership or adds a new owner. The quitclaim deed is used when someone (who may or may not be on the deed) gives up any interest in favor of another person. A quitclaim deed is commonly used in divorces, when one spouse gives up any potential accrued community property interest in real estate.
Note: Do not use a "deed of trust." A deed of trust is never used to transfer ownership (not even to a trust!). It is used to create a mortgage. For more information on Deeds of Trust, see the Step-by-Step guide available for free on our website at http://www.saclaw.org/pages/deed-of-trust.aspx.
Forms of Ownership (Title)
There are several options for how to "take title" to the property. Common forms are "as joint tenants," "as community property with right of survivorship" (for married couples or domestic partners), and "as a single man/woman." The form of title has important effects on who inherits and who can sell the property, so it is important to decide which is right for you. The attached chart lists different possibilities; for more information, talk to the reference librarian.
Document Transfer Tax and Exclusions
A Document Transfer Tax must be paid when property is sold. Contact your County Recorder for current rates. In Sacramento County, you can find the current rate at http://www.ccr.saccounty.net/Pages/FAQ.aspx.
Many transfers are exempt from this tax. You must indicate either the amount of tax or the reason the transfer is exempt on your new deed. The "Common Document Transfer Tax Exemptions" handout attached to this guide can help you determine what to enter.
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS
STEP 1: LOCATE THE CURRENT DEED FOR THE PROPERTY
You will need to copy the legal description of the property and current ownership information onto the new deed exactly. If you do not have a copy of the current deed, you can purchase one from the Recorder's Office. For more information, call the County Recorder's Office ((916) 874-6334) or visit http://www.ccr.saccounty.net/Pages/RecordedDocument
STEP 2: DETERMINE WHAT TYPE OF DEED TO FILL OUT
The two main types of ownership deeds in California are the "grant deed" and the "quitclaim deed." The grant deed is used when a person who is on the current deed transfers ownership or adds a new owner. The quitclaim deed is used when someone (who may or may not be on the deed) gives up any interest in favor of another person. The quitclaim deed is commonly used in divorces, when one spouse gives up any potential community interest in real estate. See the "Grant Deed/Quitclaim Deed" chart at the end of this guide for more information.
You can download either a grant deed or quit claim deed from the Law Library's Free Forms Page: http://www.saclaw.org/pages/forms-page-topical.aspx.
STEP 3: DETERMINE HOW THE NEW OWNERS WILL TAKE TITLE
There are several options for how to "take title" to the property. Common forms are "as joint tenants," "as community property with right of survivorship" (for married couples or domestic partners), and "as a single man/woman." The form of title has important effects on who can sell the property and who inherits the property, so it is important to decide which is right for you. See the "How to Take Title" chart at the end of this guide for more information.
STEP 4: FILL OUT THE NEW DEED (BUT DO NOT SIGN)
The deed should be filled out online and printed, typed, or neatly written in dark blue or black ink. You will need the following information:
Updating Deeds After Name Changes
To transfer the property from your former name to your new name, use a grant deed with wording such as: “[New Name], who acquired title under the former name of [Former Name], hereby grants to [New Name] the following property:"
- Assessor's Parcel Number (from current deed or Assessor's office).
- Document Transfer Tax amount or exemption. See the "Common Document Transfer Tax Exemptions" list at the end of this guide or the research guide available free on our website at http://www.saclaw.lib.ca.us/uploads/files/DocTransTax.pdf for more information.
- Names of "grantors" (current owners as shown on current deed) with form of title.
- Names of "grantees" (all new or continuing owners) with form of title.
- The legal description of the property. This must match the current deed exactly. You can attach the legal description as an exhibit if it is too long to fit on the page.
A sample completed grant deed with more detailed instructions follows. The quitclaim deed is almost identical, with one less line to fill in (the form of title).
STEP 5: CURRENT OWNERS SIGN THE DEED IN FRONT OF A NOTARY
New owners do not need to sign. The notary will charge a fee for this service. You can find notaries at many banks, mailing services, and title companies. The Law Library has a list of local, downtown notaries; if interested, ask at the Reference Desk.
STEP 6: FILL OUT THE PRELIMINARY CHANGE OF OWNERSHIP REPORT (PCOR)
The PCOR ("Preliminary Change of Ownership Report") is required by the Assessor's Office. You can download a copy at http://www.assessor.saccounty.net/Forms1/Preliminary%20Change%20In%20Ownership%20Report.pdf.
STEP 7: RECORD THE DEED AND FILE THE PCOR AT THE RECORDER'S OFFICE IN THE COUNTY WHERE THE PROPERTY IS LOCATED
The Recorder's Office charges a filing fee (currently $21/first page plus $3 for additional pages). Current fees are available at the Sacramento County Recorder's website at http://www.ccr.saccounty.net/Pages/Fees.aspx. The deed will be recorded the same day it is received at the Recorder's Office.
STEP 8: FILE ANY REQUIRED PROPERTY TAX REASSESSMENT EXCLUSION CLAIM WITH THE COUNTY ASSESSOR'S OFFICE
When property changes hands, it is "reassessed" for tax purposes, often causing a sizeable increase in property tax for the new owner.
Certain transfers are excluded from reassessment:
- Parent to child or child to parent ("Prop 58" exclusion)
- Grandparent to grandchild
- Death of joint tenant (effective Jan. 1, 2013)
- Transfers between spouses or registered domestic partners during marriage or as part of a property settlement or divorce
- Changes in method of holding title that do not change ownership interests (for instance, changing joint tenants into tenants in common)
If your transfer is excluded from reassessment, you may need to file a claim with the County Assessor. For more information, call the Assessor's office ((916) 875-0750) or visit http://www.assessor.saccounty.net/ExemptionExclusion/Pages/ExclusionsMoreInfo.aspx
Senior Legal Hotline
Toll Free: (800) 222-1753; Sacramento County: (916) 551-2140
Free legal assistance for Sacramento residents age 60 and over on almost any civil issue, including property transfers and deeds.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For more information about making real estate transfers official, see the "Recorded Documents" guide available on our website at http://www.saclaw.org/pages/recorded-documents.aspx
On the Web:
Sacramento County Clerk-Recorder's Office
Sacramento County Assessor's Office
Sacramento Press: Ask the County Law Librarian "Adding Kids to the Title on Your House"
This article discusses the potential disadvantages and dangers of adding children onto your deed as a method of avoiding probate, including higher taxes and potential debt liability.
At the Law Library:
Deeds for California Real Estate KFC 170 .Z9 R36
This book, published by Nolo Press, a respected publisher of self-help legal books, is a guide to choosing the right kind of deed, completing the required forms, and filing them. It also discusses related legal issues such as disclosure requirements, community property issues, and tax and estate planning. It contains forms for most transfers of property.
Electronic Access: From any computer (library or home) via the Legal Information Reference Center. Instructions are available on our website at http://www.saclaw.org/pages/nolo-ebooks.aspx.
Sample Grant Deed
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Sample Deed with Attached Legal Description
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Grant Deed vs. Quitclaim Deed
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How to Take Title
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Common Document Transfer Tax Exemptions
NOTE: If your situation does not fall within one of these examples, see our “Documentary Transfer Tax Exemptions” handout, available on our website at http://www.saclaw.org/uploads/files/DocTransTax.pdf. There are many other possible exemptions.
- Gift: “Gift. R&T 11911” OR “This conveyance is a bona fide gift and the grantor received nothing in return. R&T 11911” NOTE: adding someone to the deed, even if you are still on the deed, is considered a “gift” unless they pay you.
- Conveyances transferring grantor’s interest into a revocable living trust: “This conveyance transfers an interest into a Living Trust. R&T 11930” OR “Grantee is a Trust for the benefit of the grantors. R&T 11930”
- Name Change: “This conveyance confirms a change of name and the grantor and grantee are the same party. R&T 11911”
- Changing manner in which title is held (e.g. change from joint tenancy to community property): “This conveyance changes the manner in which title is held, grantor(s) and grantee(s) remain the same and continue to hold the same proportionate interest. R&T 11911”
- Conveyances in dissolution of marriage: “Dissolution of marriage. R&T 11927” OR “This conveyance is in dissolution of marriage by one spouse to the other. R&T 11927”
IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS GUIDE, OR IF YOU NEED HELP FINDING OR USING THE MATERIALS LISTED, DON'T HESITATE TO ASK A REFERENCE LIBRARIAN.