What Happens If a Deed to a Joint Property is Still in the Deceased Spouse’s Name?

If you and your spouse owned New York property together jointly, and your spouse passes away, ownership automatically transfers to you. Property held jointly is exempt from New York probate because ownership/title passes outside the estate. However, as the surviving spouse, you will still need to have your deceased spouse’s name removed from the title and a new certificate of title issued to you in your name. If you are planning on selling the property, you can theoretically just transfer the property to a buyer, but many buyers and their banks like to see an estate executor or administrator or the sole property owner on the deed before approving the sale. In which case, you would need to either file a probate proceeding or re-register the deed.

Procedure to get Deceased Spouse’s Name Removed from the Deed

Matters pertaining to transfer of title to real estate owned jointly by a married couple after one spouse passes away should be handled by an experienced New York estate attorney. The attorney can prepare and file a Petition for Reissuance of Certificate of Title for Surviving Spouse or Joint Tenant with Right of Survivorship with the Office of the New York City Register of the County where the property is located requesting that a new Certificate of Title be issued to the surviving owner/spouse. It will also be necessary to provide a certified copy of your deceased spouse’s death certificate for filing with the Petition, together with the duplicate certificate of title or a statement that the certificate of title has been lost or stolen. There is also a nominal recording fee that must be paid.

The Petition must be signed by the surviving spouse before a notary public. The Petition generally includes the deceased spouse’s name, the date of death, the fact that the couple were married and owned the property together either as joint tenants with right of survivorship or as tenants in the entirety, depending on how the title was originally taken, and a description of the property. There should also be a statement as to whether the property is subject to any estate taxes.
Some estates may be subject to federal estate taxes, consult your accountant for more details.

A Possible Estate Tax Filing

A few New York estates are required to file a New York estate Tax return form ET-706 and a federal estate tax form 706 with the IRS within 9 months after the decedent’s death and pay the taxes that may be owed. An extension to file may be requested by filing form ET-133 so long as the extension does not exceed six months. The New York estate attorney can prepare the return.

If you need any assistance with transferring jointly owned New York property involving a deceased spouse, a New York estate attorney can help you with the matter, as well as with other estate administration and probate, estate litigation or tax matters. If you wish to speak to a New York estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.


Attorney Albert Goodwin

Law Offices of
Albert Goodwin, PLLC
31 W 34 Str, Suite 7058
New York, NY 10001
[email protected]