Do you know where the deed to your house is? Do you share ownership? How is the title held? Is the property community or separate? If you answered “not sure” to any of these questions, it’s time to keep reading! This is the first in two-part post focused on estate planning for California homeowners.

First things first, find that deed! It is very common to not be sure where the deed to your home is, especially if you purchased it years ago. Be on the look out for a “Grant Deed,” “Grantor Deed,” or “Quitclaim Deed.” It will have an official stamp from your county’s Recorder’s Office. A “Trust Deed” is for your lender and does not matter for the purposes of this discussion.

You have two options if you can’t find your deed:

  • Go to the Recorder’s Office and use the self-help computers to look yourself up. Search your name, last name before first name. If you have a common name, you may limit your search to only Grantor Deeds or to a particular range of dates (the deed would likely be recorded within 60 days of you purchasing the home). When you find the deed you may request a copy for a small fee.


  • Go to the Recorder’s Office website and request a search to locate your deed. This option takes a bit longer to process and could also end up costing you more if you are unable to narrow down by date. If you go this route you should have the deed arrive in the mail within a few weeks, depending on the county.

Once you have your deed, you should analyze how the property is held and if any changes need to be made so that your estate planning goals are met. Check back in a few days for the second post in this series about California Real Estate!

Happy planning!


Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Brittany Britton is licensed to practice law in the state of California only.