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How to add someone to your house title

How to add someone to your house title

Adding someone to your house deed requires the filing of a legal form known as a quitclaim deed. When executed and notarized, the quitclaim deed legally overrides the current deed to your home. By filing the quitclaim deed, you can add someone to the title of your home, in effect transferring a share of ownership. If you have an existing mortgage on the home, simply adding the individual without the mortgage company’s knowledge may violate your mortgage terms and you still remain responsible for the mortgage payments.

Obtain a blank quitclaim deed form. You can purchase the forms from office supply stores or bookstores that carry legal forms. You can also download them online from legal forms vendors or some title companies in California.

Fill out the quitclaim deed form in ink. Make sure to include the legal description, or assessor’s parcel number, on the form.

List all current owners of the property in the quitclaim deed form under the section titled “Grantor.” Use the owner’s full legal name in this section.

List all current owners again under the section titled “Grantee.” Add the new owner’s legal name under the “Grantee” section as well.

Gather all the grantors together and have them sign the form in front of a notary public. You can obtain notary public services at most banks or legal offices or hire one to come to you by searching for local mobile notaries online.

Record the deed at the office of the county clerk in the county where the property is located. Pay the recording fee to complete the transaction to add the new owner to the property. You can call the county recorder’s office or visit its website for a list of fees and any forms you need to attach to the quitclaim deed when filing. For example, if the addition of a new owner results in a transfer tax, and you are exempt from paying a tax on the transaction, then you may need to file a Notice of Exempt Transactions along with the deed.

How to add someone to your house title

Adding someone to a house title requires signing and filing one of three types of deeds and then recording the proper forms with the County Assessor. Adding a name to a house title is most commonly used in family changes: A couple marries and wants both names to be on the title or a parent wants a child to be added to the deed. While these are common occurrences, there are other occasions you might want to add someone to a house title. Follow protocol to ensure it is legally binding.

Deed Types

The three types of deeds used to add someone to a title are:

  • A quitclaim deed states that the current owner is relinquishing some or all of his ownership in the property.
  • A grant deed is more commonly used when assigning part new ownership to someone.
  • A Revocable Transfer on Death (TOD) deed became effective in California in 2016. It allows a person to leave the home to someone upon their death to avoid probate issues without establishing a trust.

The TOD protects the existing owner from any potential liens or debts of the new owner, only allowing ownership to transfer after the existing owner’s death. The quitclaim and grant deed do not offer this protection.

Proper Filing of the Deed

After choosing the type of deed to use, you determine how owners will “take title.” For example, a newly married couple may take title as “Jim and Janet Dole, as joint tenants,” meaning they equally own the property but would transfer the other’s share upon death to the secondary name on title. If Jim wanted to preserve his children’s right to his half of the home, the couple would take title as, “Jim and Janet Dole, tenants in common,” transferring his ownership upon his death based on what is outlined in his will.

Once the title is determined, complete the forms in blue or black ink. Deeds must include the Assessor’s Parcel Number, legal names of parties (existing and new), the Document Transfer Tax or exemption form and the legal description of the property.

Sign and notarize the document, paying the notary fee. Record the deed along with a Preliminary Change of Ownership Report obtained at the assessor’s website or office. If a Tax Affidavit is required, this must be completed as well.

Pay the recording fee – currently $21 for the first page plus $3 for additional pages – with the deed. To prevent a reassessment of the property under Prop 58, complete the Reassessment Exclusion Claim at the Assessor’s Office. Exclusions exist when title transfers between spouses, parents to children, and grandparents to grandchildren.

Lender Consent

If a mortgage is still tied to the property, no owner can legally assign any part of the property to another person without first getting consent from the lender. This protects the financial interest of the lender who reserves the right to qualify the new owner for creditworthiness. Any new owner has a financial obligation to maintain the mortgage.

Possible Tax Issues

Speak with a tax advisor on possible tax consequences when adding someone to a house title. While most quitclaim and revocable transfers on death among family members are exempt from taxes, grant deeds must calculate the tax based on the fair market value in many cases. Note that a gift is not taxable if the value of the transfer doesn’t exceed the tax-free gift allowance of $14,000. If the home value exceeds the annual gift allowance, the transfer may trigger a taxable event for the recipient.

Potential Problems

Before adding a new owner, the existing owner should consider potential financial burdens a new owner might bring. For example, if parents decide to add a child who owes the IRS back taxes and that child dies, the parents now own the IRS debt because the house is part of the deceased child’s estate.

When in doubt, consult an attorney or tax advisor before executing any title changes.

How to add someone to your house title

It’s your home. You might wish to add another person—perhaps an intimate friend or a family member. Doing this is a relatively simple action. And you have the right to do it.

Still, be sure to consider the unintended consequences. However well-intended your desire to bring a loved one onto your real estate deed, the conveyance is fraught with risks and potential frustrations. Be aware that:

  • A deed that conveys an interest in your real estate ownership (“adds someone on”) has the legal effect of giving that additional person the same bundle of rights to which you are entitled.
  • Once the conveyance happens, it cannot be undone except with that other additional owner’s consent.

Consider the following aspects carefully.

Death and Taxes: The Estate Planning Pitfalls of Adding Children as Co-Owners

Some homeowners ask if they can convey an ownership interest in real estate in order to avoid probate. But if you add another person to the title while keeping your own interest in your property, the title will stay under the probate court’s purview.

Meanwhile, by adding the child to your deed, you made a gift for tax purposes. At the time of this writing, a gift to someone other than a spouse worth more than $15,000 in a single year can incur gift and inheritance taxes. (The IRS provides details here.)

Moreover, your child will be taxed on capital gains later, assuming there’s appreciation of the property value. And the child will miss out on the “stepped up” cost basis that an heir would get, which usually wipes out potential capital gains taxes.

If you pass on, and your surviving child is named on the home deed, the child is under a legal disability. Children under 18 lack the capacity to sign binding contracts in most states. This can tie up the property in unintended ways. Say, for example, your surviving spouse needs to sell the home. A court might have to step in and name an independent guardian to defend the child’s legal interests.

Your Home’s Exposure to Financial and Legal Liabilities

A monetary judgment against the additional title holder can put the home at risk. An interest in your home could be reachable by your co-owner’s creditors.

Even if you mean to convey just a fraction of your interest in the property, you lose control. The new co-owner will have full control of that portion of the property. In certain circumstances, your co-owner might have the right to compel a sale of the house.

The deed can be created to include restrictions on further conveyances. Yet burdening the property title is likely not what you have in mind when offering a loved one the interest in your parcel.

Stranger things can happen, too. Sometimes, a co-owner predeceases the gift-giver. The co-owner then leaves shares of the real estate to yet another party. This can leave the person who gave the interest to a loved one stuck sharing a home with an unexpected new co-owner.

Even in the best-case scenario, most anything major you want to do with your property will now need another person’s permission. Again, probably not what you have in mind when you give a loved one an interest in your home.

We’ve all lived and learned, and know that relationships with loved ones can change over time. Should your relationship with the co-owner sour, you could be stopped from doing anything major with your home unless you’re willing to deal with a court case. For this reason, some homeowners who put significant others on the home deed prepare legally for any unforeseen changes of heart. They have a no-nuptial prepared. The no-nup governs what happens to the couple’s assets should the relationship break down.

Co-ownership and Mortgage Loans

If the home has a mortgage, the lender might require all titleholders to take responsibility for the loan. This makes sense. A person who owns an interest but isn’t on the mortgage has all the rights of a property owner, without any of the financial duties.

A new co-owner can, perhaps, be added to the mortgage. The lender has to agree to it. If the lender allows it, expect additional fees and costs. If your new co-owner is not a blood relative, there’s a high likelihood that the change will trigger the “due on sale” (DOS) clause that requires you to pay off the mortgage fully when you decide to convey an interest in the property.

But say your home does not have a mortgage. In that case, it can be security when you need to depend on its value for a reverse mortgage loan. Another person’s name on the home title will complicate your loan application.

How to add someone to your house title

Adding someone to your house deed requires the filing of a legal form known as a quitclaim deed. When executed and notarized, the quitclaim deed legally overrides the current deed to your home. By filing the quitclaim deed, you can add someone to the title of your home, in effect transferring a share of ownership. If you have an existing mortgage on the home, simply adding the individual without the mortgage company’s knowledge may violate your mortgage terms and you still remain responsible for the mortgage payments.

Obtain a blank quitclaim deed form. You can purchase the forms from office supply stores or bookstores that carry legal forms. You can also download them online from legal forms vendors or some title companies in California.

Fill out the quitclaim deed form in ink. Make sure to include the legal description, or assessor’s parcel number, on the form.

List all current owners of the property in the quitclaim deed form under the section titled “Grantor.” Use the owner’s full legal name in this section.

List all current owners again under the section titled “Grantee.” Add the new owner’s legal name under the “Grantee” section as well.

Gather all the grantors together and have them sign the form in front of a notary public. You can obtain notary public services at most banks or legal offices or hire one to come to you by searching for local mobile notaries online.

Record the deed at the office of the county clerk in the county where the property is located. Pay the recording fee to complete the transaction to add the new owner to the property. You can call the county recorder’s office or visit its website for a list of fees and any forms you need to attach to the quitclaim deed when filing. For example, if the addition of a new owner results in a transfer tax, and you are exempt from paying a tax on the transaction, then you may need to file a Notice of Exempt Transactions along with the deed.

Adding a name to the title of a house gives that person ownership rights to your home. If your home is owned free and clear, then you'll just need to complete a new deed in both names that will replace the current deed. If the home has a mortgage, you'll need permission from the lender before you make any changes to your title.

If There Is a Mortgage

Contact the lender to see if it's possible to add a name without adding them to the mortgage. A change in ownership could trigger the due-on-sale clause, which means the lender can call the entire mortgage balance due immediately.

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If you can't add a name to the title, you'll need to refinance the loan to pay off the current mortgage. Some lenders will allow you to add a person to the deed that isn't on the mortgage, but requirements vary. The lender may require both names on the mortgage. If you're applying with the other person, the lender will look at each borrower's credit score and debt-to-income ratio. If she has has poor credit or a large amount of debt, that could make refinancing difficult. Before shopping around for loans, check your credit reports and dispute any errors or discrepancies that could affect your credit score. Try to limit the rate shopping to a 30-day window to minimize the impact of the inquiries. After the mortgage application is approved, a new deed is created in both names as part of the closing process. However, the lender still holds the title to the home. Once you've satisfied the mortgage, the lender releases the lien and transfers the title into both names as they appear on the deed.

Clear Titles

If you own the home outright, you can add a name by completing a quitclaim deed. If you're adding a spouse, you may want to use an interspousal transfer deed to help avoid transfer taxes assessed in some counties. The requirements for completing quitclaim deeds vary by state and even counties. However, the general process is the same. You'll need to complete the form as the grantor, or the person giving up his interest. The grantee — the person receiving the interest — is the other party you're adding to the deed. If you don't want to give up all of your interest, you'll also be listed as a grantee on the new deed. Sign the deed in front of a notary. Certain states may require additional witnesses. The guidelines for recording deeds also differ among states. Not all states require you to record the deed, but it's recommended to record it for safekeeping. If any money was exchanged for interest in the home, you may be charged a transfer tax on the amount.

How to add someone to the title of a house -Filing a Quit Claim Deed or Warranty Deed in Arizona

One of the services offered at Arizona Statewide Paralegal is the filing of a quit claim deed or warranty deed in order to add someone to the title of a house. In this article I will discuss more about the difference between the two types of deeds and the process we use for filing your deed.

What is a Deed?

When you own property you have what is called a legal “interest” in that property. Title refers to your ownership of the property. Evidence of that ownership is shown in the deed. A deed is a written document that transfers property ownership from one person or entity to another person or entity.

A quit claim deed transfers your property interest to another person or legal entity. When you sign a quit claim deed you do make any guarantees or promises about whether or not someone else also has a legal interest in the property. You are merely signing over your legal interest, if any, in the property. You are the grantor (giving the interest) and the person who receives your interest is the grantee. Quit claim deeds are often mistakenly called “quick” claim deeds.

Warranty Deed Vs. Quit Claim Deed

When you use a warranty deed, you are saying to the grantee that you guarantee that no one else has any legal interest or right to the property. You are providing a promise or warranty that the property is free and clear. Both types of deeds transfer ownership of a property from one person to another. However, by signing a warranty deed the grantor guarantees that there are no liens against the property.

The deed to your property specifies the type of ownership you have. For example, you may have sole ownership of the property, joint tenancy with the right of survivorship, tenancy in common, community property, community property with the right of survivorship, or a beneficiary deed. For informational purposes only, here are the definitions for each type of ownership.

Sole ownership is fairly straightforward. It means you are the only owner of the property. Joint tenancy with the right of survivorship is when two or more people have ownership of the property and when one of the owners dies, the property right transfers directly to the other owner who is still alive. Tenancy in common is when two or more individuals own property but each owner has a separate interest in the property with no right of survivorship. Community property is available only to individuals who are married to each other. They each own an undivided half interest in the property. Community property with the right of survivorship is also only available to individuals married to each other. When one spouse dies, the other spouse is entitled to both halves of the property. With a beneficiary deed, the owner records a deed that conveys the property when he or she dies to whomever is named as the beneficiary in the deed.

Quit claim deeds are most often used to transfer property rights between family members. For example, a quit claim deed might be used in a divorce where one spouse receives the family home as part of the divorce property settlement. Parents might use a quit claim deed when transferring property to their children. When getting remarried, a spouse might use a quit claim deed to add the new spouse to the property title. Quit claim deeds are also used when setting up a living trust.

Warranty deeds are most often used in a sale of a home between two unrelated parties. It is also one of the most commonly used deeds. A warranty deed is preferred by most title companies over a quit claim deed especially when refinancing a loan.

Once you have decided which deed you want to use to transfer ownership to property, you’ll need to gather some information to get started on the process with Arizona Statewide Paralegal. We will need to get all of your information, including how to contact you. If you have a copy of the most recent deed it is helpful as we need to provide the proper legal description. The information you provide should be from the most recently recorded deed. If the property is in Pima County we can locate the deed if it was recorded after 1986.

Arizona law has certain requirements for quit claim and warranty deeds. You need to include the grantor’s name. The grantor is the person or persons who owns the property. You will also need to include the grantee’s name. You can choose more than one person as your grantee or another legal entity. You will also need to include the legal description of your property. Make sure and use the legal description on the deed. This is the full legal description. If you use the legal description from your property tax statement, it may not be complete and it is possible that your quit claim or warranty deed will be rejected by the assessor.

You will then choose how the grantees will hold title to the property. You can choose as sole and separate property, joint tenancy with the right of survivorship, tenants in common, or community property with right of survivorship. When using the warranty deed or quit claim deed you also need to specify the exemption you are using that will allow you to file a deed when no money has changed hands.

According to the Arizona Revised Statues (ARS) 11-1133, the county recorder shall refuse to record any deed and any contract relating to the sale of real property if a complete affidavit of legal value is not appended unless the instrument bears a notation indicating an exemption. The most common exemptions are husband and wife (ARS 11-1134-B3), parent and child (ARS 11-1134-B3), pursuant to a court order (ARS 11-1134-A5), a gift (ARS 11-1134-A7), or person and trustee/trustee to beneficiary (ARS 11-1134-B8). In all, Arizona law has over 14 exemptions listed that do not require you to complete an affidavit of legal value when filing your warranty or quit claim deed.

If either the grantors or grantees are a trust then Arizona Revised Statutes A.R.S 33-404 require that the names and addresses of the beneficiaries and the names of the trustees are disclosed on the deed.

Arizona Statewide Paralegal offers the convenience of submitting all of this information on-line. We use a secure on-line system that allows you to complete all the steps necessary for us to prepare your quit claim or warranty deed. Once we have received all of your information, we will prepare the deed for your signature. Because you must sign as the grantor in front of a notary, we offer in office signing in Tucson, Phoenix, and Mesa. We then file the deed with the proper county recorders office. Because we have experience in all counties in Arizona we will ensure the correct process is followed.

You can also contact our office directly for an in-person appointment or consultation. We are certified by the Arizona Supreme Court for legal document preparation. Beyond just preparing your documents, we also provide complete case management for your legal document preparation. We go a step further, to ensure that your experience with us and most importantly your experience with your legal matter exceed your expectations.

How to add someone to your house title

Maybe you just got married and would like your new spouse listed as part owner of your home. Or, it could be that you want the ownership of your property to go to your child in the event of your death. To make changes to your property’s deed, you must execute a new document rather than simply adding a name to your existing deed. Procedures vary by state and altering ownership in your property can have repercussions, so it’s wise to consult an attorney before adding anyone to your deed.

To add a joint owner to your property dead, you’ll first need to check your loan documents or call your lender to determine responsibilities and policies. Possibly enlisting the help of an attorney, you will prepare the new deed that lists the joint owner and mentions ownership interest, and then take it to get recorded at the county recorder’s office.

Review Your Loan Documents

Review your mortgage documents or contact your lender before initiating the process to change your deed. If you transfer your interest in the property, or a share of it, to someone else without the lender’s permission, it may exercise the loan’s due-on-sale clause. Even if the person you’re adding doesn’t give you money for ownership in your property, the lender still may view the transfer of ownership as a sale and can demand payment in full. Depending on your financial situation, this issue may cause you to reconsider making the addition. If your mortgage contains a due upon sale clause, talk to your lender about adding someone to your deed. Some financial institutions give consent, allowing you to add another person to your property deed without requiring you pay off your loan.

Prepare the New Deed

Obtain a blank quit claim deed form from an office supply store, attorney or title company. Fill in the recording information. This includes the names of the people listed as owners on the deed — in this case, you and the person you’re adding — and your mailing address, the one to which you would like the recorded deed and tax documents mailed.

Complete the deed, filling in your name as the current owner, and your name along with the additional person’s name as the people to whom you’re deeding your property. Other information that is typically on a deed, no matter what state you are in, includes the property address and legal description, the city, county, state and the date. Leave the notary section blank.

Strike a line through any verbiage on the deed that does not apply to your circumstances. This may include information such as the statement that the transfer is forever, or that the property transfer extends to the second person’s assigns.

Add language to the deed specifying what percent of the property you and the person you are adding owns, if necessary. Otherwise, there is a presumption that the ownership interest will be equal. Spell out ownership percentages only if the parties involved are to share ownership in a split other than 50-50.

Also specify the type of ownership each party will have. Unmarried people can own real estate together in one of two ways: joint tenants with rights of survivorship, or tenants in common. If you own the property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship and one of the owners dies, the entire property will pass to the other owner. However, if you own the property as tenants in common and one owner dies, that owner’s interest in the property goes to his heirs, and the other owner only keeps whatever she had before the death. If you do not specify the type of ownership, the ownership will be presumed to be tenancy in common. Therefore, if you want to have survivorship rights, make sure the deed includes language stating that the ownership is as joint tenants with rights of survivorship.

If you are transferring an interest to your spouse, many states have laws that automatically give you survivorship rights and also protect the property from your spouse’s creditors. This is called tenancy by the entirety, and in states where property can be held this way, spouses who own real estate together generally own it as tenants by the entireties automatically. However, not every state has this type of ownership, and the application is different in every state.

Record the Deed

Take the deed to your county recorder’s office to have it notarized and recorded. Procedures vary by state, so it’s best to hold off signing the deed until you’re in the presence of the notary at the recorder’s office so that the signatures can be witnessed.

  • Roberts and Roberts, L.L.P.: How to Add Someone to a Deed
  • LegalBeagle: How to Add a Husband’s Name to the Deed or Leave the House to Him in a Will
  • NOLO: Deeds FAQ
  • FindLaw: What’s the Difference Between Joint Tenants with Survivorship and Tenants in Common?
  • The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. “What Is Joint Tenancy and When Should I Use It?” Accessed April 10, 2020.
  • Sacramento County Public Law Library. “Keeping Your House Out of Probate.” Accessed April 10, 2020.
  • Consumers Credit Union. “Avoiding Probate With a Transfer-on-Death Deed.” Accessed April 10, 2020.
  • IRS. “Frequently Asked Questions on Gift Taxes.” Accessed April 10, 2020.
  • IRS. “Estate Tax.” Accessed April 10, 2020.
  • Tax Foundation. “The Trade-Offs of Repealing Step-Up in Basis.” Accessed April 10, 2020.
  • American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys. “Joint Tenancy and Medicaid Eligibility.” Accessed April 10, 2020.
  • The steps to add a person to a property deed as joint owner are the same if you own your home outright — except you bypass the step that deals with reviewing your mortgage and contacting your lender.
  • Use a typewriter or computer printer when filling in the information on the deed to ensure it is legible.
  • Be aware that adding a person to your deed can cause you to lose property tax exemptions, based on how the deed is worded. This is a valid reason to have an attorney review a deed before you sign it and have it recorded.
  • When you add a person to your deed, you’re essentially giving them a gift of a percentage of your property. This can be an issue at tax time, as the Internal Revenue Service requires donors to pay gift taxes if they give away more than a certain amount in cash or property to one person during the year.

Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.

If you want to add someone’s name onto your property title deeds, you’ll need to follow a process known as Transfer of Equity.

It’s quite straightforward, but there can be hurdles along the way, so it’s best to speak with one of our Conveyancing Solicitors who can guide you through the Transfer of Equity process.

For free initial advice get in touch with our national team of Conveyancing Solicitors.

Transfer of Equity Process

Transfer of Equity works for both adding and removing a person from the ownership of a property. It might be that one owner wants to add a husband or wife, or a son or daughter. Separating couples also use this process to remove one of them from the property title.

  • The breakdown of a relationship requiring the division of assets
  • An ex-partner is removed from the property title and replaced by someone else
  • Transferring property into one person’s name
  • You’ve remarried or formed a new relationship and wish for your partner to be added to the title register
  • Tax purposes whereby the property is transferred into a family member’s name in order to be more tax efficient.

What Does Transfer of Equity Involve?

The first port of call for your Conveyancing Solicitor will be to check the Land Registry for your title deeds and prepare the transfer deed documents. Once this is ready you will meet with your Conveyancer and sign the title deed in the presence of a witness.

Your mortgage lender, bank or building society will need to be notified and if any third parties are involved, they must give written consent.

Your new title deeds will then be registered at the Land Registry. At this point, you will have to pay a fee to the Land Registry, which can cost anything from £50 to £920 depending on the property’s value.

Things to Consider

  • Do you currently have a mortgage on the property? If yes, then you’ll have to gain consent from your mortgage company to transfer the ownership. The new owner then has to enter the mortgage and a Conveyancing Solicitor will be required to comply with any requirements set out by the mortgage lender.
  • Leasehold or Freehold? If the property is a Leasehold, then you may require consent from the Freeholder and/or the managing agent for the transfer.
  • Will you have to pay Stamp Duty? It’s surprising the amount of people who don’t know that Stamp Duty Land Tax may be payable on a Transfer of Equity. It’s something you will have to factor in when budgeting, and ensure that you provide accurate budget information to your Conveyancing Solicitor, who will, in turn, inform you of exactly how and when Stamp Duty Land Tax is payable.

Our Conveyancing Solicitors can assist with any queries you may have regarding current mortgages and also provide a breakdown of the legal fees involved.

How our Conveyancers Can Help You

Our team of Conveyancers and Conveyancing Solicitors have a wealth of knowledge and experience that enables them to make your Transfer of Equity process run as smoothly as possible. We’ll guide you through each stage and offer full clarity throughout.

Our Transfer of Equity fees are competitive and there are no hidden costs to worry about. We’re upfront about what we charge, and we will always advise you in advance if any unforeseen work needs to be carried out.

How to add someone to your house title

Patricia Davis, a Maryland-based financial coach, says that every time she gives a lecture on money, someone always asks this question: Is it a good idea to add an adult child to the title of my home?

Davis, a former banker who worked with high-net-worth individuals, gives the same answer every time: “No.”

There are a number of reasons why someone might want to add an adult child to his or her property. Often elderly parents are trying to make sure that after they die, their home passes on to their children without having to go through probate, the legal process in which the court supervises the distribution of assets according to a will or as dictated by state law.

Others are trying to do what they could better accomplish in a will or living trust.

For example, Davis told me a story of one woman who added her sister’s name to her home. Upon this woman’s death, the sister was supposed to sell the house and divide all the proceeds among her four adult nieces and nephews. Well, the aunt did put the house up for sale – even before her sister’s funeral – but she kept the money for herself.

Just so you know, here are the various ways property can be owned:

Many people asking the question of whether it makes sense to add someone to their home are considering joint tenancy because of its right of survivorship, which avoids probate.

John C. Grier, managing partner at the San Diego law firm of Mathews Grier Damasco, outlined for me in an interview and in a really good article on his firm’s Web site (www.mbglawoffices.com; click on the link for trusts and estate planning) the pitfalls of placing property in joint tenancy. Of course, you should check with your own legal or tax adviser regarding your particular situation, since the laws of each state may differ, Grier said.

So, what are the pitfalls of joint tenancy?

Sadly, the above example is a true story. Fortunately, the couple was able to keep their house but not before spending $2,500 in legal fees as well as paying the son’s tax obligation of $75,000, Grier said.

Keep this in mind. Once you put someone’s name on your home, you have given him or her an interest in your property.

“Horror stories abound,” Davis said. “You have to be very careful about adding another individual’s name to your home.”