Legal Question in Real Estate Law in California

Adding name to deed of trust

When my wife and I applied for our mortgage loan, we discovered that my wife had been a victim of identity theft, which damaged her credit considerably. We elected to obtain the mortgage in my name alone. The deed was placed in my name only. I would like to add my wife's name to the deed of trust even though she is not on the mortgage loan. Our loan advisor at the time was unsure how to do this.

Asked on 7/23/01, 9:12 pm

4 Answers from Attorneys

C. David DuMond Law Offices of David DuMond

Re: Adding name to deed of trust

The "deed of trust" is what would be called the mortgage in other states; the mortgage can't be changed without the lender's consent. So I assume what you want to do is to put your wife's name on the deed, to show that she has an ownership interest in the property. This is simple. Just prepare a deed conveying the property from yourself to yourself and your wife. If you want to try to do this without an attorney, take the time to read and understand some books about property transfers. Your public library should have reference books, and maybe even circulating books, about real estate matters.

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Answered on 7/24/01, 12:58 pm

Roy Hoffman Law Offices of Roy A. Hoffman

Re: Adding name to deed of trust

In California you can record a grant deed in the recorder's office of county in which the property is located, transferring title to yourself and your wife. You will also need to present to the recorder what is known as a "Preliminary Change of Ownership Statement." If you don't also provide this form to the recorder, you have to pay an additional fee for failing to present it. Title can be held in a number of ways, and California recently enacted a new method of holding title which combines the best attributes of community property and joint tenancy, known as "community property with right of survivorship," that you should consider.

You can obtain a grant deed from almost any stationary store, and the forms are fairly easy to fill out. However, you would be far better off to spend the money to have an attorney properly fill out the form for you, and explain the various methods of holding title. Not only will you accomplish your true goals, but you will probably avoid a reassessment of the property, and the potential future costs you may incur for improperly transferring the property.

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Answered on 7/24/01, 1:44 pm
Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

Re: Adding name to deed of trust

As Mr. DuMond points out, adding your wife to the deed is relatively simple and can be done with stationery-store gift-deed forms and a self-help law book which you can probably consult at the library.

If you really wanted to add your wife to the note and deed of trust as a co-borrower, you would have considerably more difficulty. The lender's full cooperation would be required. An additional signature on the note doesn't improve the lender's position that much, since under California law (e.g. the so-called anti-deficiency statutes) the lender must look to the collateral rather than pursuing the borrower(s). Further, anything that appears to alter the loan may affect its priority. For these reasons, the lender will probably not want to add your wife.

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Answered on 7/24/01, 1:48 pm
Ken Koenen Koenen & Tokunaga, P.C.

Re: Adding name to deed of trust

In California, it is a simple procedure to add another person to the deed. Simply go to any title company in Northern California, of an escrow company in Southern California, and tell them that you want to add your wife to the deed of the home. They will prepare a grant deed as an interspousal transfer so that you will not be required to pay any county or city transfer taxes. They will notorize the document and record it for the county for a minimal fee (I would guess around $50).

You will need to decide if you want to take title to the property as tenants in common, joint tenancy with right of survivorship, or as community property. Under California law, all property held jointly is considered to be community property, and the manner that the property is held on the deed will only affect other areas, such as creditor rights and certain tax consequences at time of sale or other disposition of the property.

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Answered on 7/24/01, 1:54 pm

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