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Updating Deeds

For Your Information

How to Update, Change, Add or Remove Names from Title to Real Property

Important Notice

Important Information 75x40A deed or transfer document which is not properly prepared may be invalid or may cause future legal issues. This summary has been provided for your convenience. However, the Clerk-Recorder’s Office cannot give legal advice and, therefore, suggest that you contact your own legal advisor for assistance.


Generally, property ownership is transferred via a type of deed.  However, property can be transferred in many ways, including Affidavits of Death, court order, resolution or other legal transfer documents. Deeds, including the types grant, quitclaim, interspousal and others, are technical in nature.


There are a variety of free forms for deeds and other transfer documents. Those forms can be available online (the Sacramento Law Library is a free resource), from some stationary or shipping stores, and some title companies.  Generally, you will need to identify the type of deed or transfer document you are looking for.

Preliminary Change of Ownership Form

The Assessor’s Office requires that a Preliminary Change of Ownership Form accompany each Deed and Affidavit of Death when it is recorded. The form is available online on the Sonoma County Assessor’s website. The Assessor’s Office can assist you completing this form, if needed.

Manner of Holding Title

There are a number of ways to hold title to property: Joint Tenancy, Community Property, etc. Each has its advantages or disadvantages depending on your marital status, tax bracket and estate planning, to name a few. You will need to determine the manner in which you need to hold title.


Before a document can be recorded, all applicable fees must be paid.  These fees include recording fees, documentary transfer tax, the Building Homes and Jobs Act fee, and other fees depending on the type of legal description appearing on the deed, the size of the form, and the number of names to be indexed.

Current Fee Schedule

Documentary Transfer Tax

Transfer Tax is collected by the Recorder’s Office when a transfer document is recorded, unless an exemption applies.  The transfer tax statement must be on the face of the document. The amount of tax is based on the fair market value of the property. The Recorder’s staff can assist you in determining how much tax is due, but cannot determine the value of the property. 

More information and formulas for determining Transfer Tax 

Building Homes and Jobs Act Fee

A $75 fee shall be paid at the time of recording of any real estate instrument, paper or notice, except as specifically exempted.  Any exemption must be listed on the face of the document.

More information about the fee and exemptions

Recording Requirements

Before a Deed can be recorded the form will be examined for the following: 

  • Name(s) of grantor(s)   
  • Name(s) of grantee(s)
  • Description of property
  • Documentary Transfer Tax declaration  
  • Return address
  • Mailing address for tax statements
  • Grantor(s) signature(s)
  • Signature(s) acknowledged by a Notary Public
  • Preliminary Change of Ownership Form
  • Assessor’s Parcel Number – must be on first page

Other requirements may apply for different types of transfer documents