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When you own a home, you hold the title, which affirms you possess both the responsibilities and the legal rights to that property. Before you buy your home, a title company runs a search to ensure there are no problematic claims to the property title. Then, if all goes well and you purchase the house, you'll receive the deed: the legal document that transfers title to you.
But what if you need to change the title on your home? In some cases, such as the death of a spouse, you may not need to do anything. In other cases, such as divorce or inheritance, you may need to have a new deed drawn up or go to court. Changing your title isn't easy, but that's a good thing since it helps ward off home title fraud, a form of identity theft.
Can You Change the Title Name on Your Home?
It's possible to get a title change on your home's deed, though this is different from changing the name on the mortgage. The deed is the legal ownership document that's on file with the government, whereas the mortgage is a loan through a lender.
When you have a mortgage, your lender has an interest in your property and the lender can foreclose if you don't make good on the loan. Once you pay off your mortgage, your county government typically releases the home's deed to you now that you are the sole owner.
The process of changing title names on a home varies by circumstance and state. Some may require you have an attorney or title company prepare a new deed for you.
When Would You Need to Change Title on Your Home's Deed?
There are a few situations when you need to change the home's title:
- You get married. If you get married and change your name, it's smart to also change the title on your home. If you want to add your new spouse to your property deed, you can usually do this through a quitclaim deed. Depending on where you live, you may be able to create a new deed yourself, but in some locations you may need to get it notarized, file it with your county clerk, and/or utilize an attorney.
- You get divorced. Even if you don't plan to sell your home after divorce, there may be a name change, or one partner may want to be removed from the home's title. Depending on where you live, you may be able to handle this through a quitclaim. If you have a joint mortgage, you may be able to go through this process with your lender. In either case, it's best to consult a lawyer if possible.
- Your spouse dies. When your spouse dies, you may become responsible for some of their debt, but a home title may require no action. If you owned your home as joint tenants with a right of survivorship, you won't need to update the title or deed: It automatically transfers to the surviving spouse. If you decide to sell the home, however, you may need to provide the death certificate since your spouse's name will be on the deed. Another thing you don't need to worry about during this difficult time is updating your loved one's credit report.
- You inherit a home. If you inherit a home after a loved one dies, you'll need to update the title. If the homeowner had a transfer-on-death beneficiary deed, their beneficiaries can likely take ownership of the property without going through probate.
How to Change Your Name on Your Credit Report
If you're changing title on your home's deed, make sure it's updated everywhere. Changing your last name doesn't affect your credit, however; it's simply added to your existing report.
The best way to change your name on your credit report is to update your name on your accounts with your lenders. Your new name should begin to appear on your credit report within a few months. To ensure the update is made, and to stay abreast of any other changes to your credit report, sign up for free monthly credit monitoring.