Should you put your spouse on the title?
There are many reasons why you might be wondering if you should put your spouse on the title to your home. Maybe you purchased a home prior to getting married? Or maybe you got a mortgage solely under your name when buying a home after you got married, due to credit reasons.
Let’s explore the pros and cons of adding your spouse’s name to the title of your house to help you make an informed choice. That way, you can decide whether you should put your spouse on the title or not.
Reasons why you’d want to put your spouse on the title
In my experience, it’s much more common to put your spouse on the title than not. There are a number of reason that people make this decision.
Having both spouses on the title means you both legally own the home. This can provide a sense of security and ownership for both partners.
Having both names on the title ensures that both spouses have equal rights to the property. This can be important in case of unforeseen circumstances or legal matters.
If one spouse passes away, having both names on the title can simplify the inheritance process for the surviving spouse and any heirs.
Reasons to not put your spouse on the title
In certain cases, I have seen people decide not to put their spouse on the title. The number one reason, though, is forgetting to, or not getting around to it. But, in addition to this, the following are other reasons I have seen.
In the event of a divorce or separation, joint ownership can lead to disputes over the division of property, especially if both spouses have contributed unequally to the home.
In cases where a spouse comes into a marriage with property that they wish to keep outside of the marital assets, a couple may make a conscious decision to not add a spouse to a title prior to marriage.
Similar to the considerations via a prenup, there may be reasons why a spouse is omitted from the title if the owner of the property wishes to have the property passed down to children in the event of death, instead of a spouse.
Although some states have rules for joint property ownership and division in the event of divorce. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the rules for your particular state, and consult a real estate attorney.
What if only one spouse is on the mortgage?
Please see this article for a detailed discussion on what the issues might be of having only one spouse on the mortgage.
Having a spouse on a mortgage has a separate set of considerations than if a spouse is on a title. While a title designates ownership, a mortgage is a financial responsibility and potential liability. You’ll want to read this article to make sure you are well versed in the nuances.
Adding a Spouse to the Title and Deed
To add your spouse to the title and deed of your house, you’ll typically need to follow a few steps. First, gather the necessary documents, including your marriage certificate and any legal forms required by your state or jurisdiction. Next, consult with a real estate attorney or title company to ensure that the process is done correctly and in compliance with local laws. They can prepare the necessary paperwork to transfer ownership to both spouses.
Once the paperwork is completed and signed by both parties, it must be recorded with the county or city land records office to make the change official.
Understanding the Difference Between a Title and a Deed
While the terms “title” and “deed” are often used interchangeably, they refer to different legal concepts. The title refers to the legal ownership and rights to a property. It signifies who has the legal right to possess and use the property and can include various interests, such as ownership, leasehold, or easements.
On the other hand, a deed is a legal document that transfers the title from one party to another. It serves as evidence of ownership and outlines the specific details of the property transfer, including the names of the parties involved, a description of the property, and any conditions or restrictions.
In simpler terms, the title is the ownership itself, while the deed is the written document that confirms and records the transfer of ownership. When adding a spouse to the title and deed of a house, both the ownership rights (title) and the legal document (deed) must be updated accordingly to reflect joint ownership (see this related article on deed fraud).
Adding your spouse’s name to the title of your house can provide shared ownership and equal rights, but it also comes with financial and legal implications. Ultimately, the decision should be based on your individual circumstances and what’s best for you and your spouse in the long run.