How Can I Modify the Deed to My House?

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How do I get a person who is willing, plus two deceased people, off the deed to my house?

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

The live person is easy: he or she simply signs an appropriate deed transferring their interest to someone else. (What kind of deed is appropriate and how to draft one is a question for a local real estate attorney.

The deceased people are obviously trickier, as they can no longer sign. If they were on title as Joint Tenants (sometimes “Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship”), then you’re in luck. By law, the surviving joint tenant(s) own the property automatically. All you usually need to update the records is a certified copy of the death certificate and an appropriately drafted declaration (again, see your local real estate attorney).

Otherwise, legally, someone has, or must be given, the authority to sign for the deceased people.

If they were smart, and established a living trust as part of their estate plans, then this is easy: whoever is named as their successor trustee now has authority to manage all the trust assets. You’ll know this is the case if the current property ownership is not “John Smith,” but instead “John Smith, Trustee of the Smith Family Trust” (or similar).

If, like most people, they have their interest in the property in their own name, then someone needs to be appointed by a court to act on their behalf. This is done in the context of a probate proceeding, and if one hasn’t already been opened, someone will need to do so to deal with this property.

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Author: House Attorney