In Oklahoma, how to change title to a house after a joint tenant dies

Housing Photo used under Creative Commons from James Thompson

This article will show you how to change the title to a house held in joint tenancy when one of the joint tenants has passed away.

The item that most often leads people into probate following a loved one’s death is real property: Usually, a house that was owned solely by an unmarried relative and not in a trust. The only way to change the title to a house is to get an order from a court in a probate case.

In Oklahoma, there is, however, another situation where no court order is required: If the house is owned in joint tenancy between two or people, with a right of survivorship. This type of title is commonly found among married people. Upon the death of one spouse, the surviving spouse becomes the sole owner of the property based on being a joint tenant, with a right of survivorship.

Even with joint tenancy, following the death of one of the joint tenants, there are several steps you need to take for the law to recognize that you are the sole owner. Below I will list and explain each step. The result of these steps is that you end up with a recorded an Oklahoma Affidavit of Surviving Joint Tenant.

1. Get a certified copy of the deceased person’s death certificate. You will need to attach this document to a document I am going to discuss below. If the funeral home did not provide you with several certified copies of the death certificate, you can order one from the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

2. Get a copy of the Deed to the property, so you can provide an accurate legal description. If don’t have access to a copy of the deed, you should be able to find one through the county clerk or if you are in Oklahoma County, the county assessor’s website.

3. Prepare an Affidavit of Surviving Joint Tenant. You can see an example of this document by following this link and at the bottom of this Post. It is a relatively simple document. I will provide a few tips for completing it:

a. Fill in the dates that the people received title to the property as joint tenants. This is available on the deed you will have.
b. Check the line in front of “joint tenants”.
c. Plugin the county in which the property is located.
d. In the area for the legal description, write in “Legal Description attached as Exhibit “1” to this document”.
e. Fill in the Book and Page number of the deed you have.

4. After you have completed all sections of the Affidavit, print it out.

5. Attachments to the affidavit. There are two documents you need to attach to the Affidavit: (a) the Legal Description (simply a copy of the deed containing the legal description; and (b) a certified copy of the death certificate.

6. Notary. Sign the document in front of a notary who will notarize your signature. If you don’t have access to a notary, try your bank or a tag agent.

The rest of the information should be fairly self-explanatory.

7. Recording. The signed document needs to be taken to or mailed to the county clerk of the county in which the property is located. You tell the people at the clerk’s office that you want to record the deed. It should cost $13.00 for the first page and $2.00 for each page after that.

8. Original returned. The clerk will take the document, process it and give you back your original with a stamp on it showing a book and page.

And just like that . .. you are done! You now have legal proof that the surviving joint tenant is the sole owner of the property.


If you enjoyed this post, you might also like my series 6 ways to avoid Oklahoma probate after death.


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Posted by Shawn Roberts

On this blog, I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. My focus and most experience is in estate planning and business issues including Oklahoma non-compete law. I make a living as an attorney in the law firm I founded, Shawn J. Roberts, P.C. in Oklahoma City. I live in Edmond with my wife Amy and my two children, Sam (19) and David (11). We live precisely in the path of where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."