What You Need to Know About Interspousal Transfer Deed Forms in California

A couple may need an interspousal transfer deed for a variety of reasons. Here’s what you need to know about California interspousal transfer deed forms.

An interspousal transfer deed allows a couple to transfer property from one spouse to another. An individual should fill out the required forms and meet specific criteria to transfer the property successfully.

What is an interspousal transfer deed in California?

An interspousal transfer deed is a legal document allowing one spouse to assume full ownership of a previously shared property. Interspousal transfer deeds often appear in divorce cases where community property becomes separate property as part of the asset division process. The most common item needing title ownership transfer is housed both spouses live or lived together. However, the spouse remaining in the home can refinance under a separate, personal name or sell the house to more fairly disperse the equity.

Interspousal transfer deeds are significant in California because of community property laws distinguishing separate property from marital property. In 2018, a California appeals court ruled interspousal transfer deed forms contain the required language to “transmute” property from communal to separate. The ruling reaffirms the validity of interspousal transfer deeds and certifies the forms as capable of title transfer. Consequently, interspousal transfer deeds are popular for transferring title ownership between spouses.

Related: How to Fill Out an Interspousal Transfer Deed in California

What is the difference between an interspousal transfer deed and a quitclaim deed in California?

According to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, a quitclaim deed transfers any interest in real property the grantor may possess. The deed contains no warranties of any kind.

In a quitclaim deed, the spouse giving up interest in the shared property may remain liable for the property’s mortgage or other debts. Quitclaim deeds may hold a transferer responsible for property obligations despite the transferer no longer claiming residency. In contrast, interspousal transfer deeds provide the transferee with complete interest in the property.

Interspousal Transfer Deed Forms in California

A Preliminary Change of Ownership Form is required for any individual desiring to transfer property in California. The hyperlinked form is for Los Angeles County residents, but transformers residing in another county can locate the correct documents on the county website.

The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk says a person submitting a Grant Deed for recording must meet the following criteria:

  • The grantor completes and signs the Grant Deed (also obtainable at a supply or stationery store), and the grantor’s signature is notarized.
  • An exemption statement must appear on the document if the individual determines no documentary transfer tax is required. Here is Los Angeles County’s list of Documentary Transfer Tax Exemption Reasons.
  • The grantor must complete a Preliminary Change of Ownership Form.

Quitclaim Deed Forms in California

The Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk says a person submitting a Quitclaim Deed for recording must meet the following criteria:

  • The grantor completes and signs the Quitclaim Deed (also obtainable at a supply or stationery store), and the grantor’s signature is notarized.
  • View a list of acceptable exemption statements using the Documentary Transfer Tax Exemption Reasons list.
  • The grantor must complete a Preliminary Change of Ownership Form.

Related: California Gift Deeds: Forms & Requirements

FAQs About California Interspousal Transfer Deed Forms

Do I need a specific reason to file California interspousal transfer deed forms?

No, a California couple can file interspousal transfer deed forms to transfer property at any time. Divorces and financial struggles are common reasons to file the documents, but a couple does not need to have a qualifying reason to transfer property.

Are interspousal property transfers taxable in California?

No, interspousal property transfers are usually not taxable. Couples often use interspousal transfer deeds to save money when moving property ownership from one spouse to the other.

Do tax exemptions for interspousal transfers have a time limit in California?

Married couples performing an interspousal transfer for general reasons are not required to sign the transfer forms within a time limit. However, in divorce cases, spouses lose access to tax exemptions one year following the finalization of the divorce.

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