If you own property and then change your name because of marriage or divorce, your deed will contain your former name. In New Jersey, you are not required to change your name on a property title in these circumstances, but you can do so by signing and recording a quitclaim deed.
New Jersey Property Deeds
In New Jersey, like in most states, your property ownership is reflected in a deed. Deeds are legal documents that transfer ownership of real property. A deed must be signed by the person transferring ownership – called the grantor – and the person taking ownership – the grantee – in front of a notary or attorney. It must be filed with the county clerk's office in the jurisdiction in which the property is located.
Deeds are not always easy to fill out correctly, and, in New Jersey, various attachments, acknowledgements and affidavits of consideration are sometimes required. That's why it is always good practice to work with an experienced New Jersey real estate attorney when you sign deeds or transfer property interest, even to yourself.
Retaining a Former Name on Deeds
If you own New Jersey property as a single person, you may wonder if a change of name on house deeds is required after marriage. While you are free to update your name on a property deed to reflect your married name, this is not required under New Jersey law.
If you opt to retain the name you used as a single person on a real estate deed, you can still sell or transfer the property. Simply write your previous name followed by the name you are currently using. For example, you could sign "Jane Doe, currently known as Jane Smith." The same system works if you hold separate property during marriage as Jane Smith and then divorce and revert to your prior name.
Changing a Name on Deeds
If you prefer to change your name on property records, use a New Jersey quitclaim deed. A quitclaim is a type of deed that transfers all interest the grantor has in a property to the grantee without identifying that interest.
Quitclaim deeds can present risks to a grantee since you may get less of a property interest than you think. However, in this case you are both the grantor, using your name as currently written on the deed, and the grantee, using your new name, so a quitclaim deed would carry no risk at all. You end up with exactly what you had before you filed the quitclaim.
Obtain New Jersey quitclaim deed forms online and fill in the form yourself or else hire an attorney to work with you. Sign the document in front of a notary, bringing appropriate identification and your marriage or divorce decree. The notary witnesses the signature and then signs, dates and fixes a seal on the deed.
Record the quitclaim deed with the county clerk for the New Jersey county in which the property is located. In many cases, you can do this electronically. In either case, you'll have to pay a recording fee.