If You Own Your Own Home – Do You Know How It Is Titled?

Chances are, if you purchased your home from a third party, you know exactly how your home is titled – meaning whose name is on the deed. 

But, what if your home has been in the family for generations and has passed among family members.  Is YOUR name on the deed?  Don’t know?  Well, here are some suggestions as to steps you can take to determine how the property is titled.

            First, if you have a deed, look at the deed.

            No deed? Take a look at the tax notices for the real estate taxes. 

            Still no luck? Then, you may need to consider having a title search completed.

So, why might this be an issue?  Well, sometimes when property is inherited through an estate, a new deed may not have been prepared and the title may still be in great grandma Susie’s name – even though family members may have lived in the property as their own in the intervening times.  It may be that because one person was the sole beneficiary of an estate, it was thought that no new deed was needed.  However, if you think and claim to be the owner, then make certain the title to the property is in your name. 

Why is this important?  There are several reasons.  You may want to get a home equity loan and if the title is not in your name, then the lender will raise a red flag.  You may be of an age that you can get a freeze on your real estate taxes or qualify for a real estate tax rebate.  If the property is not in your name, you may not be eligible for these benefits.  If the property is not in your name, you should not be taking a deduction on your income taxes for real estate taxes, even if you paid the same.  The list could go on and on. 

If you “own” your home, make sure you “own” your home by way of the deed.  If the home has been in the family for generations, you may want to consider a title search and even title insurance so that, should you decide to sell the home, you won’t face any surprises.  Should there be a title issue, it may not be easily corrected and it could deter you from selling your home.  Be proactive and know whose name is on the deed.  If you purchased the home from a third party, this blog most likely won’t pertain to you, but if it is a family homestead – BEWARE. 

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About the Author

Kay Sowa is a paralegal in the Trusts and Estates Group at Capehart & Scatchard, P.A. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent, an Accredited Estate Planner®, and a Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor. She oversees the trust and estate administration practice for the firm. She is an accomplished author and lecturer who has frequently spoken on behalf of a number of organizations including the National Business Institute and the Institute of Paralegal Education.

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