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Changing a deed to joint-ownership

Chicago, IL |

I own an apartment condo in Chicago and would like to convert the deed to joint-ownership with my wife. How should I go about doing this? Is it necessary to hire a lawyer in this situation and if not, what are the pros and cons? Also, how long can this process be expected to take?

What are the specific tax implications of changing ownership? My wife and I are recently married and she is an foreign-born alien. We are interested in applying for her Green card and through our reading have found that evidence of joint-ownership of primary residency (or any property) can significantly enhance the strength of the application.

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Attorney answers 6


You, as an individual, must execute a deed to you and your wife. The decision will be how the 2 of you are to take title. Please ask an attorney to advise and assist you. Preparation of a deed is not difficult but the form of title can affect how you and your wife are protected in the event of good or bad times or change in circumstance. Another thing to consider is whether a transfer of ownership affects your mortgage. The cost is very reasonable for this service.


You will execute a deed conveying the property into one of the forms of joint ownership. You should be sure you fully understand the implications. Exemptions from transfer tax should apply. There should not be any income or gift tax consequences from the change in ownership.

Drafting a deed constitutes the practice of law, so unless you risk doing it yourself, only an attorney should do it for you. I would also advise you begin speaking with an immigration attorney before making final decisions.

The handling of the deed can likely be done by phone, fax and E-mail. You will probably spend about $200.00 and you will need to pay the county's recording fee.

The scope of this space does not afford an opportunity to adequately advise you. The response provided is intended to be informative, but not final. You are advised to arrange a consultation at which all facts and documents can be explored and terms for representation agreed. An attorney-client relationship must be formally established.


I agree with Ms. Goldstein that the change to your deed to add a joint tenant is a conveyance of an interest that may violate your mortgage. You will need to have your mortgage company OK the transaction, which would likely involve having your spouse sign the mortgage lien (but not the note).

If this answer was helpful, please mark it as helpful or as a best answer. This answer is for general education purposes only. It neither creates an attorney-client relationship nor provides legal guidance or advice. The answer is based on the limited information provided and the answer might be different had additional information been provided. You should consult an attorney.


The ministerial act of preparing a Deed and recording a Deed is not that difficult. However, and more importantly, I would strongly suggest that before doing so you cosult with competent counsel as to the potential consequences of this endeavour, which include, but are not limited to, tax consequences, transfer tax consequences, matrimonial issues, gift tax consequences, mortgage acceleration issues, the effct of a transfer as such on your title insurance policy to name a few.


As to the tax implications, there are several but the basic one you're probably concerned about is the IRS. If there is equity value to the property, you would be giving your wife a gift of 1/2 the value if it is true joint ownership (2 of you as joint tenants or tenants by the entirety). However, between spouses gift taxes are typically deferred until either an estate planning vehicle specifically decides otherwise or one of you passes away and the other inherits the deceased owner's 1/2, but this too can be dealt with. A lot has to do with the value involved both as to the property as well as the relative values of your respective holdings either at time of election to pay taxes or death. Time to consult with a tax professional at least to educate yourselves on future tax issues.


You should consult with an experienced attorney since you need to have the deed in tenancy in the entirety. It protects married people from judgments. See why an experienced attorney is necessary.

Jeff Jacobson 331-222-9529

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