Property Q&A in San Jose>Question Details

Tom, Other/Just Looking in San Jose, CA

My mom and I are both on the title as Joint. I am the only one on the loan. My mom wants to pass the property to me. What do I need to do?

Asked by Tom, San Jose, CA Fri Jul 9, 2010

What is the process to transfer the title from my mom and I joint tenancy to being myself sole ownership? And what are the tax consequence? Is there gift tax involved?

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Hi Tom, since your name is the only one on the loan, I believe your mom can simply record a quit claim deed with the County Recorder's Office releasing her interest in the property. If you have questions about taxes, you should consult your tax professional or CPA. Here is the link to the Santa Clara County Recorder's Office:…
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 9, 2010

Most of the answers are good.
Quitclaim deed would be the most common though a grant deed could be used too.
There may very well be legal and tax consequences with either method.

Based on 32 years experience in real estate and to the best of my knowledge; there are no tax consequences with quitclaim deed.

That being said, these legal and tax issues are very tricky and complicated.

If you do leave the joint tenancy as it is now and your mom passes, you do get a stepped-up basis on 1/2 the property (ie. the part your mom owns, while cost basis of your half is still calculated on the original price you paid for your half of the property). A stepped basis is generally a good thing on appreciated real estate as it can or will reduce the amount of capital gain taxes you pay on eventual sale.

And there may be ways thru use of a living trust and other mechanisms that would be even more tax-advantaged than joint tenants - each situation is different.

In any case, it is worth the money to consult with professionals - CPA and attorney.

Given property values in our area - say this property is worth $500K to $1M.
A mistake on the legal and tax issues involved in your question could cost you $100K to $200K EASY!

So why take a chance?

Pay for professional advice - CPA and attorney - even if it costs you $1000 - trust me, that is a small cost to ensure you don't make a mistake. Money well spent in my opinion.

If you want a referral for an excellent attorney to answer these questions in detail based on your particular situation and to preprare the right documents, please let me know.

Good luck..
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 9, 2010
Hi Tom,

I should point out that it works the other way as well, if you were to pass away before your mother, full title will pass to her by operation of law. If you have a family to whom you wish to leave the home then you do need to sever the joint tenancy with your mother. Otherwise, your mother will get the house.

If you still desire to transfer title so you are the sole owner, then you need to have a Quit Claim Deed prepared and have your mother sign it in front of a notary and then record the deed. There is no tax consequence for doing this. I do not believe an escrow/title company can help you unless an escrow account is opened because drafting a deed to transfer ownership other than pursuant to a purchase agreement is considered the practice of law. As an attorney, I regularly prepare Quit Claim Deeds and Interspousal Grant Deeds for trust and family law attorneys.

There are a lot of questions that pop into my head in determining whether you need to sever the joint tenancy and whether you should. Call me if you need more in depth analysis.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 9, 2010
Hey Tom,

All the answers are great, you can do the county recorders office to change title. You can also utilize a title company to do it for you. There are a slieu of title companies out there so anyone of them will work. I added a link from google for you below. It shows the title companies in the San Jose area.

Hope this helps.

Marc Yu
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 9, 2010
Hi Tom,

When you own a home as a joint tenant with someone, title passes immediately and by operation of law to the survivor when a joint owner passes away. So if I understand your question, you do not need to do anything. You are already slated to get the house completely upon your mother's passing; unless she or you do something to sever the joint tenancy.

There is no tax consequence I can think of when you receive full title after a joint tenant dies other than you may receive what is called a step up in the cost basis, which is used to determine capital gains tax when you sell the home. However, I am not a tax professional so you consult a tax person to verify.

Good luck.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 9, 2010
Have her do a quitclaim deed to you and you should be fine. THere is no transfer tax involved because you are both on the property. It shouldn't be an issue at all.

Call a local escrow company or legal documents firm and they should be able to help you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 9, 2010
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