A quitclaim deed is the easiest way to add your wife's name to the title. While a quitclaim deed offers no guarantee that the title is free and clear without encumbrances or liens, when transferring title to a family member, the risk is eliminated. If the home is mortgaged and has no equity, it is feasible that the wife will not receive physical interest in the property because the quitclaim offers no warranty, not even to the extent of identifying that the husband, or Grantor, has ownership.
Unless a husband and wife co-sign mortgage papers together, the home's deed reflects ownership by a sole individual. If the husband owns the home and wishes to give his wife co-ownership of the home, he must amend the title to add her name, a process known as transferring title. Only after the wife is added to the title will it be known as community property.
The Quitclaim Deed
How to File
Add your wife's name to your home's deed by visiting your county's registrar-recorder or city clerk's office and asking for a quitclaim form. You may also find this information on the county's website, if available. The quitclaim must be recorded in the county where the property is located, and every county has different forms. You must have the legal description of the property you are transferring to your wife, including the street address and city. Enter the property's lot number and subdivision, which can be found on your property tax statement. Your paperwork must be signed in the presence of a notary.
Once the quitclaim deed is filed, you no longer solely own the property. If you change your mind down the road, your wife, the Grantee, must agree to quitclaim the home back to you. If she will not, you may need to enlist the help of a lawyer to prove the quitclaim form is invalid, which can be extremely difficult. For this reason, it is usually advisable to seek counsel before granting ownership, particularly if you feel pressured about adding your wife to the title or if you question the future of your marital arrangement.
You do not need to add your wife to the title if you want her to have the home when you die; you can outline your desire to transfer the property to her in your will. If you want to essentially give your home to your wife--not merely add her name to the title--do a title search, purchase title insurance and file a Grant Deed. This process immediately and permanently gives all of your interest and ownership in the home and guarantees that you own the property, less any existing mortgage or other liens.