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Interspousal Transfer Deeds: How They Work, Filling Them Out & More

Michael Tierney
February 12, 2023

Part of life is accumulating property for use or value. This property solely belongs to the person responsible for the purchase or with their name on the associated documentation. Most basic property, such as electronics, furniture, etc., does not have associated paperwork.

Conversely, real estate and motor vehicles come with lease and registration documents where the owner must sign their name. These documents are contracts that tie the owner of specific property to their purchases and provide a viable record of what property is associated with which people. This provides a database the legal system can reference whenever property issues arise. However, property changes once we get married and share our lives with someone else because it is now shared.

When we get married, we combine our assets to generate a sustainable and unified financial setting with our spouse. This usually involves combining bank accounts and pooling furniture and other resources. Sometimes, a significant other will move into a home with you before marriage, and that property becomes the marital home.

All property within the marital home can be transformed into marital property once it is introduced to the shared environment. There are exceptions to what is considered marital property, especially insofar as inherited property is concerned.

Solution That said, it is possible to transfer property ownership to a spouse, which is usually performed during a divorce.

The question is: how do these transfers work?

What is an Interspousal Transfer Deed?

The term "interspousal transfer deed" is a specialized phrase for a legal process that enables someone to transfer property ownership to their spouse. A deed is a document that associates specific property to its owner and is an important legal form. An interspousal transfer deed is a variation of this legal document that transfers ownership. Interspousal transfer deeds vary depending on state law, meaning a form filed in Minnesota might have different requirements than the same document in New York.

While the state might have specific requirements about how an interspousal transfer deed works, there are a few universal factors to consider. Namely, there are 2 sub-types of interspousal transfer deeds that can apply to your situation.

These 2 types of interspousal transfer deeds are:

  • Interspousal Grant Deed: The "grant" variant of an interspousal transfer deed is also known as a "special warranty deed." A grant deed requires the grantor to meet certain conditions before transferring the property. The property must not have been sold to someone else, and there cannot be any liens from when the original owner had it.
  • Interspousal Quitclaim Deed: The "quitclaim" variant of an interspousal transfer deed is less strict than a grant deed. While there is no promise that the property has not been sold before and transfers the associated interest to the seller. Quitclaim transfer deeds require more trust between the parties and are less risky than grant deeds, though no lawsuits can be filed against the original owner if an issue arises with the property.

These different types of interspousal transfer deeds fill different roles depending on the situation you are experiencing.

Signing an Interspousal Transfer Deed

For the most part, interspousal transfer deeds are a niche concept since transferring ownership to a spouse might seem like a waste of paperwork. Designating a deed as "interspousal" is usually unnecessary since transferring property to someone else is usually sufficient to change ownership in mundane scenarios. Nevertheless, there are situations where identifying the transfer as a spousal arrangement is important. Indicating the transfer as being between two spouses helps the couple avoid the following:

  • Triggering a transfer tax that would be applied to property transfers between two unmarried or unrelated individuals.
  • Real estate property being reassessed to adjust the state property tax.

The biggest concern facing couples today is divorce, which affects half of all marriages in the country. If you are in divorce negotiations, you might be interested in knowing how an interspousal transfer deed will affect your case.

Which Interspousal Transfer Deeds Affect Divorce?

Interspousal transfer deeds can be executed by any couple regardless of the health of their marriage, though different situations determine whether it is a grant or quitclaim. One of the main reasons an interspousal transfer deed is filed is because the couple is divorcing. A divorce mandates the division of marital property between the spouses, so each party gets their fair share.

Some property is protected and is not considered marital property due to extenuating circumstances. The property eligible for division must be officially signed into the other spouse's ownership. However, this begs the question of which type of interspousal transfer deed will apply to your divorce.

Filing a Quitclaim Interspousal Transfer Deed

The easy answer is that you will most likely be filing a quitclaim interspousal transfer deed since they are the most common variant in divorce settings. Quitclaims are primarily used when money is not transferred between the parties, making asset division for physical property more of a quitclaim issue. While transferring property to your ex-spouse is not the most satisfying feeling, filing a quitclaim interspousal transfer deed is generally considered short and simple.

Quitclaim forms can be accessed with relative ease so long as you have access to the internet or the contact information of your local courthouse. The only caveat is that you must ensure the form you acquire applies to your state. Otherwise, you risk misfiling an inappropriate document and delaying the division of assets. This brings us to our next point of determining how to file an interspousal transfer deed for your property.

How to File an Interspousal Transfer Deed

As we mentioned, filing an interspousal transfer deed varies by state since each state has its own laws. The courthouses in each state enforce those laws by ensuring the paperwork needed to file the transfer is per state ordinances. This level of variance can complicate keeping track of which process applies to your state if you are familiar with another state's laws.

Divorce proceedings can further complicate filing these forms despite asset division being a core component of divorce negotiations. Fortunately, filing an interspousal transfer deed during divorce negotiations involves a few universal factors that apply to the forms regardless of the state.

Most interspousal transfer deeds require the same information, with only a few minor variances accounting for state laws.

Filing an Interspousal Transfer Deed

Most states require the following:

  1. The interspousal transfer deed must be in writing.
  2. The interspousal transfer deed must list the spouses involved in the process.
  3. The interspousal transfer deed must identify the property being transferred by providing a legal description and the associated address.
  4. The interspousal transfer deed must be signed in the presence of a notary public.
  5. The interspousal transfer deed must be recorded in the county where you are filing.

While divorce cases usually defer to quitclaim forms, some deeds require the filer to specify which type of deed they are filing. The grantor must outline the fact they are quitclaiming the property to their spouse. Aside from ensuring the proper information is provided and following the procedure, you must also file the document within the appropriate timeline. Whenever a legal document must be filed, a deadline is issued to ensure it can be assessed properly. The deadline for filing a transfer deed varies by state, so the deadline for filing in Nevada might not be the same as filing in Florida.

The good news is that there is no deadline for executing an interspousal transfer deed and transferring property to your spouse or ex-spouse. However, if you want the transfer to qualify as a tax exemption, you must file the document within the deadline set forth by state ordinance. Usually, this means filing the transfer within 120 days of signing the form to secure it as a tax exemption.

How Do Interspousal Transfer Deeds Affect Marital Property?

Asset division during divorce is a core concept that usually focuses on dividing marital property rather than depriving one spouse of important or sentimental belongings. Unfortunately, a large amount of property or income acquired during the marriage is automatically considered marital property, and your spouse will have equal claim to what is acquired.

The most important detail is that property you owned before the marriage can be transferred to your spouse's ownership during the marriage. Even if this property was important to you, your spouse has a fair claim to it in the negotiations.

There are several reasons why an interspousal transfer deed would be filed during the marriage rather than because of divorce negotiations:

  • You wanted to add your spouse's name to the lease or deed of your home or vehicle for legal or financial reasons.
  • You wanted to refinance your home or vehicle under your spouse's name due to superior credit ratings.
  • You needed to remove your or your spouse's name from a title or lease for legal or financial reasons.

While the intention behind these transfers is usually reasonable, it can backfire if the relationship sours and you end up in divorce court. While divorce is a common issue, it can get vicious if you and your spouse argue about asset division. Transferring your property to your spouse's name converts it to marital property by default, which can turn a property you were eager to keep into a contested item.

Discussing Marital Property With a Lawyer

This means the original property owner must challenge their spouse's claim and prove they have a stronger right to it than them. This can be difficult, and it is one of the most widely contested issues in divorce, especially since most states have regulations preventing property from being re-transferred.

For example, an interspousal transfer deed designed to take marital property and convert it into separate property belonging to one spouse is considered insufficient in divorce court. Specifically, the court will not view an interspousal transfer deed as insufficient to convert the marital property into a separate property for asset division. Usually, converting marital property back into separate property before divorce negotiations requires consultation with legal professionals and cooperation from both sides. Fortunately, converting marital property is not inherently necessary since the negotiations can be handled amicably and do not require legal counsel.

You can negotiate asset division outside a court setting and try to work out asset division amongst yourselves. This option is usually reserved for couples with an amicable relationship despite the divorce, though some couples attempt to overcome animosity to agree. Alternatively, pre-nuptial agreements can be drafted before the marriage to ensure certain property is awarded to a specific spouse in case of divorce. The problem is that interspousal transfer deeds can muddy the issue when relying on a prenup rather than negotiation.

Learn the Law

Interspousal transfer deeds are an interesting and increasingly important part of divorce court, amplified by the growing importance of retaining ownership over certain properties. This can make transferring property to our spouse's name a daunting prospect since the divorce rates seem to be increasing throughout society. However, it is not inherently dangerous and will not necessarily endanger your claims during divorce negotiations if you have the right resources and information.

Nevertheless, you must account for the fact you will likely have to transfer property to your spouse for financial or legal reasons. Especially since most couples sharing a home have both names on the title to ensure equal rights to the real estate. Unfortunately, there are more pressing issues insofar as divorce is concerned.

A Divorce Lawyer

Divorce is an extremely complicated and unpleasant civil procedure with emotional and financial challenges for both parties. Regardless of transfer deeds, there are going to be negotiations and conflicts that impact the process. Sometimes, people weaponize the process to try and skew the negotiations in their favor and harm their soon-to-be-ex. These scenarios vary; some are worse than others, but the only way to protect yourself from these situations is to learn more. Knowledge is the ultimate shield against shady legal tactics, and accessing that information is easier than it was originally. We realize this is likely a difficult time for you, and we hope this article helps.

If you're in need of any further information about the divorce process, we highly urge you to check out our collection of articles. You'll very likely find information related to your situation.

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Written By:
Michael Tierney

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