What's the best way to add someone to a deed?

7 Replies

My grandparents want to add my name to the deed of one of their properties located in New York so all three of our names are on the deed with right of survivorship. There’s no mortgage and is currently being rented out by a long term tenant.

I spoke to a few attorneys and they quoted me $700+.

Is a warranty deed something I can create on my own without the use of a lawyer?

If this is something I can do on my own, where can I go to find the right documents for the state the property is located in? I'm not sure if a website like this is sufficient. Once I obtain said documents, is having it notarized enough?

Are there gift tax implications to worry about after adding my name to the deed?

I know I have a lot of questions, but I've been getting mixed messages during my research so I figured I'd ask people who might have some insight from personal experience. 

I’d like to thank you all for your responses in advance.

There's two issues here other than the $700.00

The first is you don't know what you don't know. It could be more than just filing a deed after figuring out whether it should be quitclaim or warranty deed.

Second is the issue of many con artists know how to add names to deeds, the best ones being owners owing no mortgages. The local papers reported a con women got her name added to a deed, then got a $200K mortgage via false identity, took the money, then disappeared. It was discovered soon enough that the bank cancelled the mortgage. It was mentioned they are stricter now with anyone sending paperwork in adding names to deeds to prevent these frauds, because it's too easy to pull off. The house in questioned is half a block from me and the owner is in his 90's in a nursing home.

Now, to the issue of paperwork. We're in New York currently taking care of my mother in law who had an accident a few months ago staying with us. She is in her 90's, owns property in CA, and for estate planning purposes, need to have her name taken off a deed, leaving property for her son. They e-mailed me the documents she is to sign to review first before sending me hard copies. I was just expecting a copy of the deed, but was surprised to get that with several affidavits, something like four. There's a "Uninsured deed affidavit", "Transfer tax affidavit city of San Francisco)", etc. There's another affidavit which I can't locate at the moment, that states she is under no pressure to sign the deed etc. 

Also there's an IRS form to fill out for gift tax purposes. The long and the short of it, there's Federal, State, and local requirements you have to know and follow. The above example is for the state of CA, city of San Francisco. In NY, the requirements are again different.

Then, being in REI for over 35 years, owning businesses, I learned to use attorneys and CPA's to cover for me in the event things go wrong. They normally carry E&O insurance, so something gets screwed up bad, they get the blame and have the insurance to boot. All in all, the $700.00 is worth it, because it's not just filling out a form.

First, grandparents should speak with a CPA about how to best deal with this asset. Yes, there are tax implications.

Once it is determined how the property should be held -- perhaps life estate, perhaps j/t, perhaps this is a really dumb idea, really whatever their advisors deem to be in their best interests -- then you would contact a local title company. 

$700 sounds high but NY is an attorney state, so go figure.

Have them add you as the inheritor on the will. Otherwise your tax basis on the gain if you sell will not get "stepped up" when they die.

@Frank Chin

It's unfortunate that there are people in this world that make a living off of taking advantage of other people.

I do not mind paying for an attorney. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't paying for something I could've done on my own. I understand where you're coming from in terms of having an attorney take care of everything incase of an error. 

Thank you for your response.

@Tom Gimer

Thank you for taking the time to respond. There seems to be lots of different options so I will let them know.

@Steve B.

I currently don't have any intentions on selling, but that is definitely something to keep in mind. Thank you Steve.

Originally posted by @Dominique Collins :

@Frank Chin

It's unfortunate that there are people in this world that make a living off of taking advantage of other people.

I do not mind paying for an attorney. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't paying for something I could've done on my own. I understand where you're coming from in terms of having an attorney take care of everything incase of an error. 

Thank you for your response.

 Actually, my brother in law in San Francisco hired a title company to take care of it. I didn't want to be nosy, and didn't ask how much it cost him. How assets are gifted can be a sensitive matter among family members.

I didn't go into tax or estate issues here. One thing you try to avoid is later on, some one can accuse you of sneakily talking grandpa into giving you the house which is why I think there was an affidavit to that effect in the paperwork for my mother in law. For instance, I could say, "how come we're not getting an part of that property"?

Attorneys do more than filling out forms but also give you legal advice on what you're doing.

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