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How to remove someone’s name from a property deed

Learn when to use a quitclaim or warranty deed — and important differences between the two.

Whether it’s due to death, divorce or a change in personal circumstances, it may become necessary for a name to be removed from a property deed. This is done using a deed of conveyance – either a quitclaim deed or a warranty deed.

Deciding which deed is better suited to your situation requires an understanding of the type of property and the people being affected by the change in the deed. By the end of this guide, you’ll know when to use a quitclaim and warranty deed, how to remove a name from a deed and what the risks are.

Note that real estate law in Canada is primarily determined by provincial and territorial governments, not the federal government. This means policies for taking someone’s name off a deed will vary depending on where you live in Canada. It’s always a good idea to seek legal counsel and have an attorney review the paperwork before you submit it.

What’s a quitclaim deed?

A quitclaim deed is used to sign over the property title to another person. When someone signs a quitclaim deed, it means that they’re effectively giving up their claim or rights to the property. There is no exchange of money or warranties, so it offers the lowest level of buyer protection.
Because they are high risk, quitclaim deeds are usually used between trusted people, for example, a family member or spouse. Keep in mind that a quitclaim deed has no effect on the mortgage obligation. Even if you remove a person from the deed, all parties on the mortgage are still responsible for payments.

Transferring property ownership after a divorce

Divvying up assets in the wake of a separation can get complicated – especially where real estate is concerned. When a married couple divorces, they have 2 options with their home: one partner can buy out the other partner’s interest in the property, or both can agree to sell the home to pay off their mortgage so they can start fresh on their own.

If one partner wants to buy the other partner out, that individual will have to discharge the existing mortgage by refinancing and getting a new one. The partner who is leaving will be given their share of the home’s value, and the remaining partner will fully own the home and be responsible for making all the mortgage payments moving forward.
Keep in mind that to qualify for refinancing, the remaining partner will have to prove that they can afford to make the mortgage payments. This could be a challenge if both partners’ incomes were required to qualify for the original mortgage.
That’s why it’s important to take a serious look at your finances if you want to keep your home after a divorce. You need to be sure that you can handle the financial obligations of being a sole homeowner.
Tip: Bring a copy of your divorce papers or separation agreement with you when you go to close the loan on the home. The lender may require this information to change the mortgage agreement.
If a common law couple separates, each will continue to own whatever real estate they had before they started living together. In other words, both will walk out of the relationship with whatever they brought into the relationship. However, if they jointly own a home, they’ll have to sell it or one can buy out the other.

To learn more, check out this Government of Canada article on housing after a separation or divorce.

What to do with your mortgage debt after a divorce

How can I remove a name from a title deed?

A deed of conveyance – such as a quitclaim or warranty deed – is the most common way to remove a name from the property deed. A deed of conveyance is usually completed by the buyer as well as the seller who is being removed from the title and deed.

Forms of property ownership

Before you transfer ownership of any type of property, it’s important that you know the kind of ownership that’s being discussed. Some are better handled with specific deeds of conveyance.

Property ownership comes in different forms including:

  • Sole ownership: A single person owns the property.
  • Joint tenancy: Two or more people
  • Rights of survivorship: Multiple people own the property and inherit equal shares after another owner’s death.
  • Tenants in common: Multiple people own the property and do not inherit any shares after another owner’s death.
  • Tenancy by entirety: Two people own a property, one of whom inherits the entire property after the other’s death.

How to change property title name

1. Discuss property ownership interests.

Speak with any co-owners to reach an agreement about which names will be removed from the title and why. If removing your name, agree on your share of the property, who it will be transferred to and how the ownership structure is formed.

When transferring property ownership, you’ll use one of two deeds of conveyance:

  • A quitclaim deed: This document states that you have the right to transfer a property with no legal assurance that anybody else claims to own it.
  • A warranty deed: This document states that you have the right to transfer a property with an explicit assurance nobody else claims to own it.

Quitclaim deeds are easy to file and work for most changes of ownership. A warranty deed, however, can be more appropriate in situations when there are multiple owners. A warranty deed can also prevent future challenges to ownership, because it clearly indicates the transferring party’s right to change the ownership.

2. Access a copy of your title deed.

You’ll need to get a copy of the title deed to verify that it currently includes the name you’d like to remove. You can get a copy of the title deed from your local land title office. Sometimes deeds are available for order online too.

If you’re getting a copy from your local land title office, search for your deed in their database or ask for assistance.

3. Complete, review and sign the quitclaim or warranty form.

You can get a quitclaim form online, from an office supply store or from your county or city clerk’s office. If you’re looking to remove your name, you must fill out the quitclaim form, using the same name found on the title deed. Warranty deeds can also be found online, but they are more often acquired from the county clerk’s office.

Both quitclaim and warranty deeds are valid only when they’re executed correctly. In most counties, the deed must accurately include all parties to the deed as well as the signature of the person conveying or granting the deed.

Quitclaim and warranty deeds must clearly specify:

  • The name of the grantor (the person transferring their ownership) and grantee (the person to whom ownership is being conveyed)
  • The address of the property.
  • The date of the transfer.
  • The location where the deed is signed (including the city and province/territory )
  • A document number or reference from the land title office where the previous deed was filed.
  • The reason for the transfer.
  • What the grantor will receive from the transfer — for example, a sum of money.
  • Relevant financial and tax info including the legal description of the property and the property’s Parcel Identification Number (PIN), which is on the Property Assessment Notice sent by tax authorities.
  • The form of ownership (see above).

Sign the deed only if correct and as advised by your attorney, if you have one. Sign in front of a certified notary witness who can acknowledge each signature.

How do I remove the name of a deceased person from a deed?

When 1 or more of the people on your property deed have passed away, you’ll need to transfer the property to its living owners. Whether a will is involved or not, if you’re a surviving owner, you’re typically required to submit 3 documents to your province’s land registry office, including:

  • Death certificate. You’ll need to obtain a copy of the death certificate to prove the person you’re looking to remove is actually deceased.
  • Notarized affidavit. This is a voluntary, sworn statement used by courts to confirm the death and your new ownership. It includes basic contact and information you’ll finalize in front of a notary public.
  • The new deed. You and any new owners will need to sign and notarize the new property deed and provide it with your other paperwork.

Contact your local courthouse or county clerk to learn more about the specific requirements of your province/territory and any laws of inheritance.

4. Submit the quitclaim or warranty form.

Submit your form at the land registry office where you got the original property deed. Some provinces/territories may require additional paperwork, like tax documents. Check with your local office to make sure you have everything you need.

How to add your name to a property when all the owners have died

If a will or a court’s decision grants you ownership of real estate, you’ll need to modify the property deed to reflect that you’re the new owner.

First, you’ll need to look at the original deed of the property and confirm it wasn’t jointly owned at the time of the owners’ deaths. If it wasn’t, then you’ll need to write up a new deed to replace the current one.

An executor is a person who receives the estate of a deceased individual. Their responsibility is to administer and distribute the estate as per the will or the law. If you’re using an executor’s deed, you’ll need to include the following:

If you’re using an executor’s deed, you’ll need to include:

  • Confirmation the will has gone through probate
  • Info that shows the executor is authorized to deed you the property
  • Names of the previous owners

If you’re using an administrator’s deed, you’ll need to draw up the deed in accordance with provincial or territorial law for those who die without a will.

Finally, you’ll need to sign the deed in front of a notary public. You’ll also need to have the executor of the will or the court administrator who issued you the deed sign it in front of a notary. You may need to include a copy of the will as part of the deeding process as well.

5. Request a certified copy of your quitclaim or warranty deed.

It’s important to keep a copy of significant files, such as deeds, for your records. You may need to pay a small fee, but keeping it on file can be useful in case of a future property ownership dispute or amendment.

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Bottom line

Once you fully understand the details of the property in question, it’s a pretty simple process to remove someone’s name from a property deed. If you have any questions or are experiencing trouble during the process, it can hire a lawyer to assist you.

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