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How to change a deed after death

Each county has slightly different requirements for transferring real property after the owner's death. The surviving party to real property may be a surviving spouse, child, co-owner or other legal heir. Some counties require that you complete a single form, no matter your interest. Other counties require that you file a specific affidavit to convey the property to your name after the owner's death. The affidavit and single forms require similar information; the affidavit is just more specific to your relationship to the deceased.

Go to the County Recorder's office, also called the Register of Deeds, in the county in which the property is located.

Obtain a "Change in Ownership Statement" after the death of the real property owner. The name of this document varies per state. Depending on the county, there may be additional forms. For example, in Riverside County, California, you must also complete a "Preliminary Change of Ownership Report."

Enter the surviving person's name, the relationship to the deceased, the date of the owner's death and the address of the property. Check your interest in the property -- as the surviving spouse, child or heir.

Sign the form in front of a notary public. Show the notary your state-issued identification card. The notary will then attest to your identity and signature, and affix her own notary seal and signature to the document.

Submit the completed form, along with a copy of the deed, death certificate and will or trust, if you're designated as the heir by one of these instruments.

File an "Affidavit of Death of Joint Tenant" if the property was owned under joint tenancy. Joint tenancy is a form of ownership that automatically conveys the property to the surviving owner. You must obtain and file this form at the County Recorder's office in the county in which the property is located. You will most likely need to attach a copy of the property deed or most recent tax bill with the form. This form may need to be notarised.

Complete an "Affidavit of Death of Trustee" if the deceased owner left a living trust. A living trust is an estate planning tool that allows the owner to transfer the property to his designated heirs upon his death. The affidavit removes the deceased owner's name from the property title. You must obtain and file this form at the County Recorder's office in the county in which the property is located. On the form, include your relationship to the deceased, attach a copy of the living trust, and property deed or tax bill. This form may require notarization.

Get an "Affidavit of Death of Spouse" if you and your now-deceased spouse held a community property with the right of survivorship title. Community property allows one spouse's interest in a property to be passed to the surviving spouse without going into probate. Again, file this form at the County Recorder's office in the county in which the property is located. Attach a copy of the death certificate with the completed form. This form may also need to be notarised.

About the Author

Si Kingston has been an online content contributor since 2004, with work appearing on websites such as MadeMan. She is a professional screenwriter and young-adult novelist and was awarded the Marion-Hood Boesworth Award for Young Fiction in 2008. Kingston holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mills College.

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