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Changing Your Name on a Deed

by: John T. Lotardo

QUESTION: I read your column in a Family Law Newsletter. The article was interesting. Thanks for taking the time to provide the information. Right now, I have a real estate question that you may be able to answer. I have a couple who are married and own a home in joint tenancy with right of survivorship. They purchased the home during marriage; however at the time of purchase, the wife was using her previous name. She has now obtained a court order changing her surname to her husband's surname. She would like to have the deed reflect her new name. What do you recommend as the proper procedure to accomplish the change? Do we need to deed out to a straw man and then back to the couple with their new names, or something else?


ANSWER: Thank you for your recent question. Many people in your client's position actually do nothing until the time of selling the residence. At the time of sale, the deed usually will read something like "John Smith and Mary Smith, who acquired title as Mary Jones, and John Smith, husband and wife, hereby transfer, sell and convey to..." If your client is insistent that she wants the title to reflect her new name, you can always record a certified copy of the order changing her name. However, prior to recording, I would review the terms of the order to make sure there is nothing too personal in it that the client would not want to be part of the public records of the Recorder's Office. Once recorded, an examination of the the title records under her name would reveal the order that her new name as "Mary Smith." This would “connect the dots”. If she still insists on changing the county records as it relates to the property itself, you can always do a deed from the two of them (like above) to the two of them (to John and Mary Jones…) without the need of straw party since I believe that requirement has been removed. Good luck!

This article is offered as general guidance only and is not to be relied upon as specific legal advice. For legal advice on a specific matter, please consult with your broker or an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in that area.

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