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The answer will depend in part on whether other co-owners are listed on the current deed. If another owner receives the property through survivorship rights, it may be necessary to have that person execute a deed. If other heirs are named in the will to receive the property, it may be necessary to have them execute a deed.
When a person dies, their assets are distributed in the probate process. If a person dies with a will, an executor is named to handle the distribution of the estate after a petition to probate the estate is filed with the court in the county where the deceased resided. To dispose of the real property interests of the decedent, the executor or administrator executes an executor's deed or fiduciary deed. For example, if a person who is a co-owner dies, the administrator of the estate can execute a fiduciary deed transferring their interest to the remaining owners. Joint tenancy property passes outside of probate; however, it may be severed so that the property becomes part of one person's estate and passes to that person's heirs.
A deed is the written document which transfers title (ownership) or an interest in real property to another person. The deed must describe the real property, name the party transferring the property (grantor), the party receiving the property (grantee) and be signed and notarized by the grantor. In addition to the signature of the grantor(s), deeds must be acknowledged to be recorded and acceptable as evidence of ownership without other proof. A valid deed must be delivered and accepted to be an effective conveyance. Most states assume delivery if the grantee is in possession of the deed. The deed also must be accepted by the grantee. This acceptance does not need to be shown in any formal way, but rather may be by any act, conduct or words showing an intention to accept such as recording the deed. To complete the transfer (conveyance) the deed must be recorded in the office of the county recorder or recorder of deeds in the county in which the real estate is located.
There are many situations in which it may be desirable to add or delete a person's name from a deed, such as adding or removing a spouse, child or sibling. A person can only be deleted from a deed with their approval, i.e., they must execute the deed (sign and have their signature notarized). When a couple solely own a home as joint tenants, one spouse may deliver a deed to the other, such as a deed from husband and wife to an individual, or a deed from two individuals to one individual.
There are two basic types of deeds: a warranty deed, which guarantees that the grantor owns title, and the quitclaim deed, which transfers only that interest in the real property which the grantor actually has. The only type of deed that creates "liability by reason of covenants of warranty" as to matters of record is a general warranty deed. A quit claim deed contains no warranties and the seller doesn't have liability to the buyer for other recorded claims on the property. The purchaser takes the property subject to existing taxes, assessments, liens, encumbrances, covenants, conditions, restrictions, rights of way and easements of record. However, a person who obtains a mortgage is still liable for mortgage payments after executing a quit claim deed on the property securing the mortgage. The quitclaim is often used among family members or from one joint owner to the other when there is little question about existing ownership, or just to clear the title.
Joint tenancy is a form of ownership by two or more individuals together. It differs from other types of co-ownership in that the surviving joint tenant immediately becomes the owner of the whole property upon the death of the other joint tenant. State law, which varies by state, controls the creation of a joint tenancy in both real and personal property. Joint tenancy property passes outside of probate, however, it may be severed so that the property becomes part of one person's estate and passes to that person's heirs. A joint tenancy between a husband and wife is sometimes known as a tenancy by the entirety. Tenancy by the entirety has some characteristics different than other joint tenancies, such as the inability of one joint tenant to sever the ownership and differences in tax treatment. In some jurisdictions, to create a tenancy by the entirety the parties must specify in the deed that the property is being conveyed to the couple "as tenants by the entirety," while in others, a conveyance to a married couple is presumed to create a tenancy by the entirety unless the deed specifies otherwise. Each joint tenant has an equal, undivided interest in the whole property. All joint tenants, and their spouses, must sign deeds and contracts to transfer or sell real estate. A joint tenant may convey his or her interest to a third party, depending on applicable state law. This conversion would in effect terminate the joint tenancy and create a tenancy in common.
Tenants in common hold title to real or personal property so that each has an "undivided interest" in the property and all have an equal right to use the property. Tenants in common each own a portion of the property, which may be unequal, but have the right to possess the entire property. There is no "right of survivorship" if one of the tenants in common dies, and each interest may be separately sold, mortgaged or willed to another. A tenancy in common interest is distinguished from a joint tenancy interest, which passes automatically to the survivor. Upon the death of a tenant in common there must be a court supervised administration of the estate of the deceased to transfer the interest in the tenancy in common.
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