How to Change a Real Estate Deed After the Owner Dies


After the death of a person who owned real property, there is no need to preserve that person’s name on the property deed since it serves no function. While she was still living, the presence of her name on the deed revealed the identity of the property’s owner to lending institutions, tax officials, and members of the general public. But when a person dies, their stake in the property goes to another person. If you are the one who is responsible for sorting all of this out, the first thing you should do is study the deed that the previous owner used to acquire the title to the property.


The manner in which the dead owner held title to the property influences the process that must be followed to alter a real estate deed after the owner has passed away. In most cases, a change in title will occur automatically as a result of the operation of the law; otherwise, it will need a probate procedure.

Title to Property

When the owner of a property interest passes away, the interest in the property must must be transferred to a new owner. How exactly this takes place is determined on the manner in which the deceased owner held title. Examining the deed is the first thing that has to be done in order to figure out how to remove the name of the dead person from the title and, if required, add another name to it.

What information will be included in the property deed? Every deed contains information that identifies the real property that is being transferred, the person who is transferring the property (who is referred to as the grantor), and the person or people who are accepting title (who are referred to as the grantee or grantees). In this particular scenario, you are aware that the owner who has passed away was a grantee. But was she the lone recipient of the grant? In the event that this is not the case, can you tell me who the co-owners of the property are and how they hold title? There are various distinct methods in which co-owners might hold title to a piece of land, such as tenants in common, joint tenants, communal property, or tenants in the whole. The manner in which the owner held title will dictate how to proceed.

A Sole Owner and Probate

If the property was solely titled in the dead owner’s name when she passed away, it is quite probable that the estate will need to go through the probate process. Probate is the court-supervised process by which a deceased person’s debts are paid and her remaining assets are transferred to those named in her will, if she wrote one, or by operation of law to her family members. If the deceased person did not write a will, her assets are distributed according to state intestacy laws. In most cases, a will will designate someone to lead this procedure, which is known as the executor. He is in charge of the assets of the dead person, which includes maintaining the real property, conducting an inventory of the assets, paying payments as they come due, locating the beneficiaries, and finally, with the court’s consent, distributing the assets to the right persons.

If there is a will, the probate court will issue the necessary paperwork for the executor to be able to transfer real property to the beneficiary of the will. If there is no will, the court will transfer the property to the heirs at law. In most cases, a dead person’s spouse and any children, as well as the deceased person’s parents and siblings, are considered to be their legal heirs.

Co-Owners With Right of Survivorship and Operation of Law

If the deed lists more than one grantee and includes the phrase “right of survivorship,” you may be certain that the interest of the person who has passed away will automatically be transferred to the other owners. Both joint tenancies and tenancies in their full come with a right of survivorship attached to them. It is also possible for it to attach to interests in shared property.

The holding of property by two or more persons at the same time is referred to as joint tenancy. If the property was held by the dead owner in joint tenancy with other people, this fact will be declared clearly in the deed, and those “others” will be identified. The creation of joint tenancy interests has to take place simultaneously in a single document. When one of the joint tenants passes away, the other owners automatically get her stake in the property as a result of an operation of the law, which is a feature that is unique to this kind of shared ownership.

Spouses have the option of holding property jointly via either tenancy by the entirety or communal property when they get married. Tenancy by the entirety is an ownership structure that married couples have the option of using in locations such as Florida. In certain places, such as California, residents have the choice to participate in community property arrangements that include a right of survivorship. In either scenario, the survivor of the deceased spouse automatically inherits the property via the operation of the law.

How can the name of the dead individual be removed from the title of the property? You need just submit an Affidavit of Survivorship to the recorder’s office to complete the process. It’s possible that several parts of the world will refer to this paper by a different name. An “Affidavit of Death of Joint Tenant” is what it’s called in San Francisco, and it has to be recorded with the Office of the Assessor-Recorder in Hall, which is in Justin Herman Plaza.

Tenants in Common and Probate

If the dead person owned title to the property together with other individuals but as tenants in common, then each individual possessed a certain proportional stake in the property. On the deed, the deceased person’s percentage of interest will be specified in full. By operation of the law, other co-owners do not automatically acquire this kind of interest in the property. Instead, it is distributed among the beneficiaries of the owner’s will, or among her legal heirs in the event that she did not leave a will.