How to Change a Deed in New York City

Deed for Signing

With all that has been going on in the world with Coronavirus, people have been thinking about estate planning more than usual (which is a good thing). I have received many inquiries about how to add a spouse to a deed, so I wanted to share how to change a deed in New York (NYC, more specifically).

What is a deed?

A deed is a document that identifies the owner of real estate in New York. Generally, a deed will state who gave property (the Grantor), who received the property (the Grantee, and usually the current owner), as well as a description of the interest transferred and a description of the property.

Since there are different ways to hold property, it’s really important to examine the chain of deeds prior to making any changes to a deed. Super important is that you can only transfer your interest in real property.

Let’s say that a parent had two children. The parent passed away, and the property now belongs to the two children. By default, the 2 children hold the property as tenants in common, meaning they each own a 50% share of the property.

If child A transfers their interest to someone (let’s say they sold it to a friend for $50,000), they can only transfer the interest that they own – that is, their 50%. They can’t transfer any more than that because you can only transfer what you own.

How to Change a Deed

The first step, after determining what you can transfer, is to create a new deed. There are different kinds of deeds, which each have different legal statuses. For most purposes, you will want to use a Bargain and Sale Deed.

On the deed, you will identify the Grantor(s) (who is transferring the property) and the Grantee(s) (who is receiving the property).

There are 2 general ways to hold property: as tenants in common, and as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. As described above, the tenants in common is the simplest, and the default, where each party owns their specified share. Joint tenants with rights of survivorship means that the owners own the property as a undivided whole, and as people pass away, the 100% remains owned by the people remaining alive.

As an example, let’s assume that you as the parents want to transfer your house to your three adult children.

Example 1 as Tenants in Common: You transfer the property to your 3 children as tenants in common. By default, each of the three children own 1/3 of the property. Thus, each can sell or do whatever they want with their 1/3 share. If one of the children dies, their 1/3 share passes down based on whether they have a will, or who their heirs on.

Example 2 as Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship: You transfer the property to your 3 children as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. Since this is an undivided whole, neither of them can transfer or sell any portion of the house unless all three children agree and sign the transfer. Also, if one of the children dies, the remaining 2 children now own the house as an undivided whole – the share does not pass down by a will or to any heirs.

What documents are required to change a deed in New York City?

Now that we have an idea how the deed and ownership works, the question becomes what documents are required to change a deed, as well as the process.

To change the deed in New York City, as we discussed, we will need a deed signed and notorized by the grantor. Additionally, the deed must also be filed and recorded with the Office of the City Register along with transfer documents which identify if any taxes are due. The transfer documents are available on the NYC ACRIS website.

After preparing the transfer documents (which require notarized signatures from both the Grantors and Grantees), they can be filed either in person or online (provided you have an account). The taxes and fees will have to be paid prior to any recording. The City Register Office will advise if there is any errors with the filing.


Changing the parties on a deed can be an effective way to do some estate planning. In this article, we discussed what a deed is, elements of ownership, and how to go about changing a deed. If you would like to change the parties on your deed, then contact the Law Office of Richard Kistnen, email [email protected] or call (718) 738-2324, to get your deed changed done today.

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