Name on the title but not on the loan?
February 25, 2010 3:20 PM   Subscribe

How do we put my wife on our home title if she's not on the loan?

California, Los Angeles County-specific. We know there's something about a quitclaim deed involved, but not how to get one or how much it will cost. You are not my lawyer, nor are you offering legal advice.
posted by infinitewindow to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My real estate lawyer was able to do this at closing for my fiancee. When we get married in a few months, he'll amend it. Talk to you real estate lawyer, shouldn't cost you much.
posted by Oktober at 3:22 PM on February 25, 2010

We did this in California. Loan is only me, title is joint between me & my wife.
posted by GuyZero at 3:46 PM on February 25, 2010

Woa there, hang on. Why do you want to do this? It's quite possible this could make a huge mess for yourself.

By way of background, there is no such concrete thing as a "title" onto which you'd put your wife. "Title" just refers to the state of ownership at a given instant. So you can't call up the bank, say, and ask it to write your wife's name in a blank somewhere. In order to have your wife on the title, you need to convey an interest in the property to her, and do the other magical things (e.g. recording the deed) to make the conveyance fully effective. A deed is an instrument used to convey interests in property, and a quitclaim is a particular (simple) sort of deed. The transaction is not particularly complicated, but the odds are very good that you'll be better off paying a lawyer to draft the document (who will probably just use a form, but will hopefully know which form to use) and submit it for recordation.

BUT ...

You say you've got a loan. Banks are often very unhappy when their collateral is transferred without their knowledge. It is COMMON where I'm at for loan documents to say that if you convey any interest in the property at all without the bank's written consent, the entire loan will immediately become due. I have no idea what the legal status of these "due on sale" clauses are in California, or whether a transfer to your wife would trigger one, but I'd be very careful. In short, DO NOT DO THIS unless you are 100% sure you are in the clear with your lender.

And need I say it: get a lawyer.
posted by lex mercatoria at 4:41 PM on February 25, 2010

We're set up where I am the only person on the loan, but through our title company we set up Joint Tenancy.

You get a deed through the title company with the joint tenants with rights of survivorship verbiage as well as the ability to pay a little more for an Affidavit for Joint Tenants. This just gives you additional coverage, the survivor automatically gains ownership of a decedent's interest.

For the record we are teh gay ladies living in Texas. If y'all are married you might need to check on the need for an affidavit -- I'm guessing you probably won't need it due to marriage laws.
posted by likesuchasand at 4:59 PM on February 25, 2010

IANAL and IANYL. That said, I worked with title companies and real estate attorneys for 40 years. First off, California is a community property state. Most likely, if community funds were (and are) used to pay for the house, your wife probably already owns half of it. It is certainly a good idea to document this.

You need a real estate attorney who can, for not too many dollars, read your note and deed of trust to determine whether a deed adding your wife's name to the title can be recorded without triggering an adverse event and to draft the very simple document that will do what you want it to do.

You had to obtain title insurance when you bought the house (it was a requirement of your lender). Call that title company and tell a title officer what you want to do. S/he can give you the name of several attorneys that they deal with and you can pick from the list.
posted by Old Geezer at 6:50 PM on February 25, 2010

What they said above. Getting a legal opinion is always a good idea. I know a guy who had his name on his home loan and quit claimed half interest in the home to a long time live in girlfriend. When they split she got 50% interest in the home and he got 100% of the loan to pay off. Yikes. Have you considered refinancing to get both of your names on the loan and on the title?
posted by MsKim at 7:00 PM on February 25, 2010

Talk to a lawyer. In my state, a wife automatically has a certain interest in real estate, even if the husband is the sole owner. But California is a community property state, which makes things different in ways that I don't understand.
posted by yclipse at 4:13 AM on February 26, 2010

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