The title records maintained by the state are what allow you to claim ownership of your home. You must execute a deed when you assume ownership, and the former owner will also need to sign a deed taking their name off of title. You must update the formal records to protect your ownership interest.
The recorded deeds affirm your right to control and inhabit a property. When another party has an interest in the title to your home, possibly because they financed its purchase or secured a lien due to unpaid work performed on the property, that lien will prevent you from selling the property or even refinancing it without first paying the amount owed.
Sometimes, you may take ownership of a property with a spouse or a family member that later dies, but their name somehow remains on title years later. Other times, a paid debt remains on record. Typically, the easiest and fastest way to resolve title issues will involve executing new deeds. If the other party won’t sign a new deed or if they are unable to do so due to death or incapacity, then you may need to go to the California civil courts to resolve your title issue.
The civil courts can resolve your title matter
California state law includes rules that allow for quiet title proceedings. Essentially, someone with a vested interest in the property can document the issues with their title and then file a request for a hearing.
A judge can look at the evidence, possibly including proof that someone on title has died or that the owner has already resolved a lien still recorded and reported as outstanding. So long as the documentation supports an owner’s claim that a name on the title record or a prior lien does not belong there, a judge may rule in their favor and order the removal of those title blemishes.
Although going to court may take longer than just executing a deed, it may be the only viable solution when the other party can’t or won’t cooperate in your efforts to correct your title issue. Learning more about your property rights under California law will help you prepare to refinance your property, transfer to someone else or list it for sale.