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How to change a deed when you inherit property

When real estate titles transfer from one person to another, there has to be a written record.

In most cases, the written instrument is a deed, identifying the "grantor" who transfers title and the "grantee" who receives it, as well as information about the property and any "consideration" the grantee is paying to receive the title. If you've inherited property and you want to change the title -- so that you and your wife can be co-owners, for example -- it's usually a matter of making out a new deed according to state law.

Understand what legal rights you have to the property you inherited. If the deceased transferred title to you alone, you have the right to do with it what you choose. If, on the other hand, you and your siblings all inherited a share, you may own it as tenants in common; in that case, you can sell or transfer your personal stake in the land, but you can't transfer title to the entire property.

Select the exact changes that you'll need to make to the deed. If you and your brother inherited as tenants in common, for example, you might want to change to joint tenants with right of survivorship. That way, if one of you dies, the other inherits his ownership share. Alternatively, one of you might agree to convey his share so that the other can have undivided ownership. Or, if the deed conveyed title to you as single grantee, you might want to convey title to yourself and your spouse so that you'll own it together.

Research your state law. All states require deeds include the names of the grantee and granter; the granter's signature; the legal description and address of the property; and be signed and sealed by a notary, the Nolo legal website states. Other rules vary: Some states require witnesses sign the deed, for example, and some require the grantee put his signature on it along with the granter.

Draw up the new deed according to state requirements. You can download the appropriate form for your state and for your purpose from any of several websites that sell legal documents. If you want to transfer title from yourself to yourself and your husband as co-owners, for instance, you would write your name as granter, your name and his as grantee, and then fill out the rest of the deed.


Don't wait until the title is settled to take an interest in the property. While you and your siblings are debating what you want to do with your parents' house, for instance, you need to make sure that mortgage payments go out and that any necessary maintenance is taken care of.