Adding or Changing Names on Property (Completing and Recording Deeds)
Templates and Forms
Warning about adding names
- If you are adding someone as part of a credit repair or loan deal, it may be a scam.
- If you add a name or sign a quitclaim deed, the grantee becomes an owner. You can’t change your mind without their signature.
- If you are adding an heir, you could use a living trust or Transfer on Death Deed instead. This can avoid probate without giving up ownership while you are alive.
Any time owners make a change to the title of real estate, they must record a deed with the County Recorder. This Step-by-Step guide outlines the requirements and provides samples with instructions.
Types of Deeds in California
California mainly uses two types of deeds: the “grant deed” and the “quitclaim deed.” Most other deeds you will see, such as the common “interspousal transfer deed,” are versions of grant or quitclaim deeds customized for specific circumstances. Since the interspousal deed is so commonly requested, we are including a sample in this guide.
Step by Step Instructions
Locate The Current Deed For The Property
You will need information from the current deed. If you need a copy of the current deed, contact the Recorder’s Office where the property is located. In Sacramento, call (916) 874-6334.
Determine What Type of Deed to Fill Out for Your Situation
To transfer ownership, disclaim ownership, or add someone to title, you will choose between a “grant deed” and a “quitclaim deed.” Spouses/domestic partners transferring property between each other may choose an “interspousal deed.”
Here is a flow chart to help you choose:
Determine How New Owners Will Take Title
If there is more than one new owner, you are moving the real estate into or out of a trust, or the new owner is married, the form of title can have important effects.
See “Forms of Title for Multiple Owners,” below, for examples of how these are entered onto the deed.
Your choice of title can have many effects later, such as when you sell or refinance, if one owner falls into debt, if one owner dies, or if a couple divorces. Some examples of potential effects are:
- reassessment of property raising annual property taxes (since 2022, parent-child transfers are no longer always immune);
- higher capital gains taxes when an owner sells;
- how the property is divided in a divorce;
- whether the property can be liened or foreclosed on for one of the owners’ debts;
- ineligibility for benefits such as Medi-Cal;
- difficulty refinancing if one owner has bad credit;
- lack of eligibility for a reverse mortgage.
If you have questions about which form of title to use, talk to a family or estate lawyer or research your options at the law library.
Fill Out the New Deed (Do Not Sign)
You will find filled-out samples of each type of deed at the end of this guide.
The deed can be filled out online, typed, or neatly written in dark blue or black ink. You will need the following information:
- Assessor’s Parcel Number. (Find this on the current deed.)
- Document Transfer Tax amount or exemption code. (Calculate 1.1% of current market value, or enter applicable exemption.)
- Names of “grantors” (the current owner(s) signing the deed) or of the disclaiming party(ies). (Enter the name(s) as spelled on the current deed.)
- Names of “grantees.” (Enter all the intended owners, including any current owners who will still own the property).
Important: If you add a name, that person legally becomes an owner. You cannot change your mind without their signature.
- Form of title the grantee(s) will use. (If no form of title is entered, this will be “tenants in common” for unmarried owners or “community property” for married couples.)
- The legal description of the property. (Find this on the current deed.)
Grantor(s) Sign in Front of a Notary
The notary will charge a fee for this service. You can find notaries at many banks, mailing services, and title companies.
The new owners do not need to sign.
Fill Out the Preliminary Change of Ownership Report (PCOR)
The PCOR is required when property changes hands, to update the tax records. Turn it in at the Recorder’s Office along with the deed. You can download a Sacramento version of the PCOR from Cal Assessor e-Forms. Each county has its own version; contact the assessor’s office in the county where the property is located to obtain the proper form.
Record the Deed and File the PCOR at the Recorder’s Office
The Recorder’s Office charges a recording fee (currently $20/first page plus $3 for additional pages). Current Sacramento fees are available at the County Clerk/Recorder’s website. You may also need to pay the Documentary Transfer Tax or a $75 “Building Homes and Jobs Act” fee.
File Reassessment Exclusion Claim, if any, at the Assessor’s Office
When property changes hands, it is reassessed for tax purposes, often causing a sizeable increase in property tax for the new owner.
Certain transfers are excluded from reassessment, including:
- Parent to child or child to parent (“Prop 58 Exclusion” for deaths before 2/15/2022, “Prop 19 Exclusion” for deaths after 2/15/2022)
- Grandparent to grandchild (but not vice versa) (“Prop 58 Exclusion” for deaths before 2/15/2022, “Prop 19 Exclusion” for deaths after 2/15/2022)
- Transfers between spouses or registered domestic partners during marriage or as part of a property settlement or divorce
- Changes in method of holding title that do not change ownership interests (for instance, changing joint tenants into tenants in common)
If your transfer is excluded from reassessment, you may need to file a claim with the County Assessor. For more information in Sacramento, call the Assessor’s office (916‑875-0750) or visit the Sacramento Assessor’s office website.
Common questions when filling out deeds
Some parts of deeds often need more explanation.
For More Information
On the Web
- Change in Ownership Reassessment Exclusions
- Proposition 19 (Changes to Parent/Child and Grandparent/Grandchild Exclusions)
At the Law Library
Deeds for California Real Estate (KFC 170 .Z9 R36, Self-Help)
This book, published by Nolo Press, a respected publisher of self-help legal books, is a guide to choosing the right kind of deed, completing the required forms, and filing them. It also discusses related legal issues such as disclosure requirements, community property issues, and tax and estate planning. It contains forms for most transfers of property.
Miller & Starr California Real Estate Forms (KFC 140 .M53)
Sections 1:133-1:137 offer language for grant, interspousal, quitclaim, and easement deeds.
California Real Property Practice Forms Manual (KFC140 .A65 C34)
A range of sample forms for specific situations such as easements, mineral rights, and more.
Samples & Instructions
Below are samples of the deeds discussed in this guide.
PCOR Instructions and Tips
In addition to your deed, you will also need to turn in a PCOR (Preliminary Change of Ownership Report). Download the Sacramento PCOR or obtain it from the county assessor where the property is located (the form is different in each county).
This material is intended as general information only. Your case may have factors requiring different procedures or forms. The information and instructions are provided for use in the Sacramento County Superior Court. Please keep in mind that each court may have different requirements. If you need further assistance consult a lawyer.