our everyday life

How to Transfer a Deed to a Sister After the Estate Pays Off a Mortgage

by Jayne Thompson, studioD

When someone dies, his real and personal property becomes part of his estate. The estate is managed by an executor who settles mortgages and debts due from the estate before distributing the assets to the beneficiaries named in the decedent's will. If there is no will, the court nominates the heir or heirs who are to receive the property. It does this by applying state intestacy laws. If your sister is the named beneficiary of real estate, or the court ordered heir, you can quickly transfer the house to her by deed as soon as liens against the property have been removed.

Ascertain the type of deed you will need to transfer the property. If you are the personal representative of the decedent's estate, Legal Creation states that you should use a Personal Representative, Transfer on Death, or Beneficiary Deed to transfer the property to the heir (your sister). Otherwise, you might be able to use a quitclaim deed.

Ascertain how your sister will hold title. If your sister is taking ownership of the whole property, the matter is straightforward and you will name her as sole grantee. If you and your sister are going to own the property as co-owners, decide how you will do this. The two legal options open to you are a joint tenancy with a right of survivorship, and a tenancy in common. With a joint tenancy, when one co-owner dies, the survivor automatically owns the entire property absolutely. With a tenancy in common, the co-owners' interests never merge and each co-owner is free to sell her share or pass it to a beneficiary under her will.

Get hold of a blank template for your transfer deed. Conduct an internet search to find free blank deeds on the web. A personal representative/grant deed is short, typically one page. Choose the correct deed, depending on whether the grantee is one or several persons.

Complete the deed. Fill in your sister's name as grantee. For co-ownership, name yourself and your sister as grantees and specify the nature of your co-ownership. Complete the property description. The property's legal identity is not the same as its address. It will typically be described by a tract, parcel or lot reference. You can find the legal description on the current property deed.

Sign the deed before a Notary Public and file it with the land records office for the area in which the property is located, paying the relevant fee. According to Legal Creation, most states do not require the grantee to sign a grant deed, so your sister need not be present during the signing. However, this varies by state, so check your local execution procedure before signing.


  • If you have any doubts about the type of deed you should use, consult an attorney.

About the Author

Jayne Thompson qualified as a solicitor in 1996. She holds a first degree in law and business from the University of Birmingham and a Master of laws from the University of East London.Thompson shamefully admits to using her family as fodder for the lifestyle and parenting articles she also writes, which have appeared most recently in "The Green Parent" magazine.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images