Hello, I own a house in Oregon and only my name is on the house. I would like to add my wife to the title in case something happens to me. There is no mortgage.
I have called the county to see if I can add her, they said I need to hire a lawyer to do so.
It does not make sense to spend a $1000 or so to hire a lawyer to add a name to a title. Does anyone know the proper way to do this without a lawyer?
This is not usually an easy process. This is because, in essence, a quitclaim deed needs to be created to overwrite the pre-existing deed where you can then add your wife on the title. Usually, this process only requires a notary public which shouldn't cost more than $100. Circumstances could be different in your area, make sure to contact a title company, lawyer, notary, and do your due diligence!
@Ben Eiesland This should be a very easy process and should not require you to hire a lawyer. I have done this multiple times myself, and - although the process will no doubt vary slightly because I'm in a different state than you - it still shouldn't require spending a $1,000 to figure out. Perhaps a little bit of your time.
I've bought several rental properties in cash, but in my own name initially just to save my wife from having to take off work to sign all the mountains of paperwork. Then I simply later went and added her name to the title, just like you're trying to do. In my state, it literally takes just filing two forms to do this.
The first form I had to file is a Grant Deed. On this form I granted title from John Doe, a married man, to John Doe and Jane Doe, husband and wife. My cost for filing this form was $14. It also had to be notarized which cost me $15.
The second form I filed is a Preliminary Change of Ownership Report form. This form simply attested that this transfer of ownership was solely between spouses. There was no cost for filing this form and by filing it I was exempted from having to pay additional fees and having my property taxes re-assessed.
So the grand total to add my wife to the title = $29 per property.
Now, I am no lawyer. Though I have several that I use for various reasons (taxes, landlord-tenant issues, lending, etc). So how did I figure out how to do this? I simply went into my local County Recorder's office and asked them, and they explained the whole process to me since they see (and work with) these documents every single day.
As I mentioned initially, the process in your state will likely vary slightly. But I personally would not hire a lawyer for this simple task. I'm a big proponent of using lawyers when you need to, but this is just not one of those times (in my opinion). You can do this!
If you're willing to do a little research of your own, you don't need an attorney. Clerks are famous for telling you that you do because they don't want to have to hand hold you through the process, and they can't legally do your job for you.
So you don't need an attorney to do your own legal work, just a little initiative to figure out how to do it yourself. I fully probated two large estates without an attorney so I'm sure you can manage to get a title change done without too much effort.
This should be easy and hiring a lawyer shouldn't be necessary. Look into it online a little bit further and you will see. Look up filing a quit claim deed.
Yes, you can do it yourself, but I've seen so many poorly drafted deeds. Do you understand tenants by the entireties, the habendum clause, consideration, legal descriptions, the formalities of deed execution, for instance?
Remember, your estate is going to have to straighten out any issues with the deed in court and that gets expensive and time consuming. I think you can have an attorney do it for a whole lot less than a $1,000, like maybe $250. Your own time is worth something.
To save costs, the drafter may place a statement on the deed that she or he has not reviewed title to the property.