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Adding Your Spouse to the Deed of Your Home

Adding Your Spouse to the Deed of Your Home

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Adding a spouse to the deed of a home is typically a fairly simple process, but the decision to do so should be carefully evaluated. Since such a move could have a substantial impact on a couple’s financial future, homeowners should consider the advantages and risks before adding their spouses to the deed of their homes.

How Do Homeowners Add Spouses to Property Deeds?

One of the most common ways property owners add spouses to real estate titles is by using quitclaim deeds. Once completed and filed, quitclaim deed forms effectually transfer a share of ownership from the owners, or grantors, to their spouses, or the grantees. When drafting new deeds, it is important to specify that the spouses intend to hold the property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship or tenants by the entirety.

Joint tenancy creates a unity of ownership in which all owners listed on the deed have an undivided interest and ability to use the whole property. Reserved only for married couples, holding the title as tenants by the entirety creates the same ownership union as joint tenancy. However, this title holding method establishes some protection from creditors and precludes either spouse from selling his or her stake in the property without the permission of the co-owner.

What are the Benefits of Naming Both Spouses on Home Deeds?

Adding a spouse’s name to a home deed can help give people peace of mind that, should something happen to them, their loved ones will not necessarily be forced to give up their homes. Whether they leave a valid will or not, any property solely owned by decedents passes through the probate process in Illinois. Through joint ownership, however, assets transfer directly to joint owners without going through probate. Widows and widowers may benefit from holding properties in joint tenancies, as probate can be a lengthy and costly process.

What are the Drawbacks to Adding a Spouse to a Home Deed?

Before making the decision to add their spouses’ names to their home deeds, property owners should evaluate the disadvantages of taking this step. Should couples divorce, courts may terminate the tenancy by the entirety. However, those who formerly co-owned property may be entitled to a portion of its interest, while the remaining owners are solely liable for the home’s mortgage.

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