Can I add someone onto my house deed without going to an attorney? I cannot afford to retain one?

I received the house in my divorce & am the only one on the deed. I have recently found out that even with a will, if no one else is on the deed then it has to go through Probate. My family and I have recently found out firsthand that this is a nightmare and takes forever! I don't want my family to have to go through this at the time of my passing.

Chicopee, MA -

Attorney Answers (4)

E. Alexandra Golden

E. Alexandra Golden

Elder Law Attorney - Needham, MA
Answered

The cost of having a deed drafted is peanuts compared to the potential cost of cleaning up a mess if you try to draft your own deed. Someday your house will need to be sold -- maybe while you're alive, maybe after you pass away. When that day comes and the title insurer looks at your deed and finds problems, the sale can be held up or even lost while the problems a badly drafted deed created gets fixed.

That being said, I really need to counsel you against adding someone to the deed. Do a little searching on AVVO and read all the horror stories of people who have lived to regret adding another person to the title of your home. You're exposed to the co-owner's creditors if they go bankrupt or get sued. Your co-owner can decide to go to court and force you to sell the house. If your co-owner gets divorced, their interest in the house is an asset of the marriage and is subject to division.

The safer way to go is to see an attorney about putting your house into a living trust. That way, you maintain complete control over the property during your lifetime and set up a plan to transfer ownership of the house to your loved ones after your death, outside of probate.

E. Alexandra "Sasha" Golden is a Massachusetts lawyer. All answers are based on Massachusetts law. All answers are... more
Laurel H. Siegel

Laurel H. Siegel

Real Estate Attorney - Boston, MA
Answered

It is possible for you to draft and record your own deed, but it would be advisable for you to hire an attorney to draft it for you. Many attorneys will only charge $100-200 to prepare a deed, and it would be money well spent to ensure it is done properly and avoid issues down the line.

Henry Lebensbaum

Henry Lebensbaum

Criminal Defense Attorney - Andover, MA
Answered

If you realize what you are doing and the consequences, then yes.


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Christopher W. Vaughn-Martel

Christopher W. Vaughn-Martel

Family Law Attorney - Boston, MA
Answered

Thanks for your question.

Your best option is to prepare an adequate estate plan. Adding someone's name to a deed is simple, but can cause extraordinary problems later on. When dealing with something worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (now or in the future) do not do it yourself.

Christopher Vaughn-Martel is a Massachusetts lawyer with the firm of Vaughn-Martel Law in Boston, Massachusetts.... more

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