If you are wondering how to change your name on your house deed after marriage, it is not a legal necessity to do so. If you have changed your last name and eventually choose to sell your home, the title company can easily trace that you owned the property and changed your name. Beyond that, there is no legal reason you must change your new last name on the actual deed.

Let’s look at why and how to change or add a name to your Texas real estate deed.

If You Have the Deed in Your Possession

If you would like to change your name to match your new married name, it is easy to print a quitclaim deed online and deed the property to yourself in your correct name. You can work with a real estate attorney to draw up the proper documents for the clerk of court in the county of your property, or you can draw them up yourself using these simple steps:

  1. Find the deed to your property. If you don’t possess the deed, contact the clerk of court in your county for a certified copy. If you are paying on a mortgage or deed of trust, they have the deed and you’ll need to work with the trustee or mortgage company to change your name on the deed. 
  2. Create the new quitclaim deed transferring the property to yourself  You can use different types of deeds can to transfer property. A quitclaim deed does not guarantee that there are no liens or encumbrances on the home, but it works for changing your name.
  3. See a notary to sign your deed. 

Community Property in Marriage

In Texas, married couples own real property jointly as community property of the marriage. If you are looking to add a name or change the legal owner to your spouse’s name, there is likely no legal reason you must accomplish this.

Community property is any property you or your spouse bought during the marriage using income that either of you received during the marriage. Even if your deed only lists one spouse, most real estate acquired during the marriage belongs 100% to both spouses. 

Right of Survivorship

As a newly married couple, it may seem illogical to consider what will happen if one of you dies. However, it is not difficult to go ahead and prepare for the unexpected. Real estate held as community property in marriage does not automatically include survivorship rights.

On the death of one spouse, the surviving spouse will continue to own his or her one-half interest in the real estate. The remaining half is dealt with by the deceased owner’s will or Texas intestacy law. Unless you want to go to probate court to fight for your share of a marital home, you will need to sign paperwork with your spouse that includes the right of survivorship.

When you sign your deed, it is a good time to look at whether you and your spouse share joint tenancy with the right of survivorship. This means that if one of you passes away, the other spouse inherits the property. When you sign to change your deed, you can include a written agreement that you share the right of survivorship. You can include this with your deed paperwork as a supplemental agreement. 

Marriage and Community Property 

Suppose you acquired the property before marriage and pay for the mortgage separately and never mix any bank accounts or funds related to the house with your spouse. In that case, it is possible to own property separate from your spouse. However, if you want to own the home you live in together as separate property from your spouse, consulting a real estate attorney would help maintain the individual ownership of your property. If you have both signed the deed, it would be difficult to maintain that you own the property separately in court.

According to TexasLawHelp, ”if the real property was bought with one spouse’s separate property, the real property will be that paying spouse’s separate property. During the divorce, it will be that spouse’s responsibility to prove that they used separate property to buy the real property.”

Find Counsel

To make sure that you own your home with the correct documentation, discuss your deed transfer options with a knowledgeable real estate attorney. An experienced attorney will help you draw up deeds and ownership documents with the correct filing requirements for your situation. At Jarrett Law, we want to help with any homeownership issues you may have and answer any questions that come up in your ownership journey.