An interspousal grant deed is used when a married couple owns real property together. This grant deed transfers one spouse's interest in the property to the other, and often includes special language to transfer any spousal or community property interest the spouse holds under operation of law. Don't take signing off on an interspousal grant deed lightly, because you may have no further legal claim to the property.
Types of Deeds
The legal documents you use to make changes in property ownership are called deeds. Two categories of deeds are grant deeds and quitclaim deeds. If you own a property interest, you use a grant deed to state what interest you have and can transfer to someone else.
A quitclaim deed also relinquishes all interest in a piece of real estate. However, unlike a grant deed, a quitclaim deed does not state or guarantee that the person signing it has any interest in the property. It transfers any interest the person may have. A quitclaim deed does, however, prevent the person from later claiming an interest in the property.
An interspousal deed is a type of grant deed. You use it when you know you have an interest in real property, and you wish to transfer that interest to your spouse. In some states, like California, the fact that you are transferring your interest to your spouse confers tax benefits and also prevents the reassessment of property value.
State community property laws can trump an interspousal grant deed that does not contain specific language regarding transferring community property interests.
When Interspousal Deeds Are Used
Classically, interspousal grant deeds are used in divorce proceedings when one spouse is awarded full ownership of the family house. However, they are not only reserved for divorces. Often, interspousal grant deeds are used when a couple is applying for a loan if one spouse's credit is significantly better than the other's. Additionally, if only one spouse is borrowing the money, some lenders routinely ask the other spouse to sign an interspousal grant deed so that he cannot assert a claim to a part of the recovered debt in case of a foreclosure sale.
Preparing an Interspousal Grant Deed
Fill-in forms for an interspousal grant deed are widely available from title companies both on the Web and in paper form. Your attorney can also give you the form, and sometimes you can get them from the clerk of the court. If you decide to use an interspousal grant deed from the Internet, be sure that it fulfills the legal formalities in your state, and that it contains specific language about community property or other implied spousal property rights, if that is your intent.
Like other grant deeds, an interspousal grant deed requires an accurate legal property description, and the full names of the spouses doing the transfer. In most states the signature on the deed must be notarized. Check your state's laws before you proceed.
Get legal advice before you sign off on an interspousal grant deed for any reason. This is especially important if you have a suspicion that a divorce may be in your future. Even if the divorce court asks for a grant deed, get legal help so that your interests are protected. Signing off on the deed doesn't necessarily release you from the loan.