Woman researching on computer if you can remove someone from a deed.

5 minute read

Deed 101– can you remove someone from a deed without their knowledge?

Is it possible to remove someone from a deed without their knowledge? Could you be removed from a deed without your consent? Here's what you need to know.

Patrick Hicks

Patrick Hicks, @PatrickHicks

Head of Legal, Trust & Will

Generally speaking, a person cannot be removed from a deed without their knowledge and consent. It is possible to remove someone from a deed illegally by recording a new deed with a forged signature. However, such a deed resulting from fraud or forgery is void and can be easily removed by a court.

The only method by which a person ‘s interest in a property can be transferred is through a deed that has been properly executed, acknowledged, and recorded. This is an intentional action by which this owner’s interest is transferred to another party. 

If two or more individuals own property together (known as tenants in common), one co-owner cannot remove the other co-owner by executing a new deed. They can only transfer their personal share of interest. 

A title search can help prevent someone from being removed from a deed unintentionally. The title company will search all transfers associated with the property in question. This process results in identifying the true owners. All parties who have an interest in the property must be involved in executing the deed, otherwise the property cannot be transferred to the new purchaser. Luckily, title searches are conducted in all home purchase transactions and thus provide a helpful stop-gap.

For instance, if a property is co-owned between spouses, then one spouse cannot transfer their half without obtaining the consent of their spouse. 

Can I be removed from a deed without my consent?

No, you cannot be removed from a deed without your express consent. If you hold title to a property and are listed as an owner on your deed, then your interest in the property cannot be transferred to another party without your knowledge. 

For instance, even if you co-owned your property with another tenant, they can’t record a new deed and transfer your share of interest without your knowing about it. They could potentially transfer their own share of the property to another party without your consent, but your personal share of interest is protected by law. 

There are two exceptions to this. First, someone could potentially attempt to record a new deed through fraud or forgery. Although extremely difficult to do so, even if that person were to succeed, it is an illegal and criminal action. The deed wouldn’t be legitimate, and thus you can easily disprove it in a court of law.

Second, a court order resulting from a foreclosure or partition action lawsuit,  could remove you from a deed against your will. However, these actions would not happen without due process and legal representation. In the case of a partition action lawsuit, you may be forced to sell the property but would receive monetary proceeds for your share of the interest. These scenarios can be avoided entirely with your due diligence. 

Removing someone from a deed– what you need to know

While you cannot remove someone from a deed without their knowledge or consent, there are a few scenarios in which you still need to remove someone from the deed. Death, divorce, and changes to personal circumstances are all common and can result in the need to remove an individual from a house deed.

Removing yourself from a deed is relatively easy. You can simply utilize a quitclaim deed, a deed of conveyance, or an interspousal transfer deed, depending on your situation. Here, you are making the conscious decision to release your interest in a property and transfer that interest to another individual, to the remaining owner(s), or into a Trust, for instance. This cannot be done without your express acknowledgement and consent.

Next is the question of removing someone else from a deed. First, you’ll want to research your state laws regarding changes of ownership and the type of deed that should be used. If the person to be removed is alive, then you will need a court order or their cooperation such that you can record a new deed that removes them. Quitclaim and warranty deeds are common solutions. 

If an owner of a property has passed away, you will need to transfer the property to the living owners. They may be already-established co-owners of a property. They could also be the new owners of a property who have inherited it from the deceased through their estate plan, such as through a transfer-on-death deed

If you are the surviving owner, you will need to visit your local county registrar office and submit:

  • A Death Certificate: A copy of the death certificate provides proof that the person is deceased.

  • A Notarized Affidavit: A voluntary, sworn statement used by courts to confirm death and new ownership of a house. You must confirm your identity and contact information in front of a notary public.

  • The New Deed: Along with any new co-owners, you will need to sign and record a new deed along with the above-listed paperwork.

To remove someone from a deed, follow these general steps:

Determine and discuss property ownership interests

First, have a discussion with co-owners to determine who will be removed from the title and why. You’ll also need to decide to whom any interest will be transferred to, and how the new ownership structure is formed. Based on this information and your agreement, you will select which type of deed you will use.

Obtain a copy of the current deed to determine title

You’ll also want to get a copy of the currently-recorded deed to ensure that the deed information is correct and verify that it includes the name(s) you’d like to remove. You can obtain a copy of the deed through your local county registrar’s office.

Complete, review and sign new deed

Obtain your new deed form, fill it out, review it, and obtain the consent and acknowledgement signatures of all parties involved. Some deed forms can be found online, and you can also obtain them through your local county office.

Record the new deed

The new deed won’t be valid unless you properly file it (record it) with the appropriate office. Office names vary from county to county, but it is typically the registrar’s office, recorder’s office, or county clerk. Be prepared to pay a recording fee.

Request a certified copy

Last but not least, don’t forget to request a certified copy of the deed for your records. The original deed is with the county, but having a certified copy on file can be helpful reference in case any questions or disputes regarding property title come up. 

Make sure your estate planning documents are up to date

In short, you cannot remove someone from a deed without their knowledge and express consent. Doing so without their consent can typically only be done through fraud or forgery, which is illegal. Further, an illegally-recorded deed is void and can easily be disputed and set aside by a court. The only other scenario in which someone’s share of interest in a property could be removed against their will is as a result of a court order. 

If you wish to remove someone from a deed, you will need their consent. This can be done by recording a new deed, which will require their signature. If the person in question is deceased, you will need their death certificate and a notarized affidavit along with the new deed. 

As a final note, house deeds and any desired changes in real estate ownership should be incorporated in your estate plan. If you own property and you were to pass away, stating your desires as to what should happen with your property interest will make life much easier for your loved ones. They will be able to record a new deed in their name without further complications. 

You can do so by establishing a Will that conveys your wishes regarding your property interest and how you wish to have it distributed. You can also make certain arrangements such as setting up a transfer-on-death deed (if allowed by your state), or using a conveyance deed to transfer your property into the ownership of a Trust. You might even make the decision to gift your property to a loved one before you pass away. These are all outcomes you can achieve by carefully planning your estate plan. 

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