Updated November 4, 2020:

Transfer of rights in the property rights is one of the foundations of property ownership rights. It's possible for a property owner to give away some rights but still hold onto ownership. One example of this is when a property owner gives someone an easement to get to another piece of property. Transferring ownership entirely is another option, and it means giving up all basic rights, such as the right of possession, usage, and exclusion.


The term conveyancing refers to the process of transferring a piece of property to a new owner. When an attorney is part of the conveyancing process, he or she listens to what the buyer wants and what the seller wants and then turns those desires into a legal response to those desires by preparing and filing property ownership deeds or other forms of ownership paperwork. The attorney handling the conveyance determines which document is right for the specific transaction, who needs to sign the document, what form of title the new owners are going to hold, and which rights related to property ownership are going to be transferred.

Ways to Transfer Property Ownership

There are a number of ways to transfer property ownership rights to someone else. It is possible to transfer ownership whether the thing is of little financial value or a very costly property, such as high-value real estate. The high-value properties usually have more complicated procedures for transferring ownership. The methods for transferring ownership of property are:

  • Basic property transfers
  • As a gift
  • Relinquishing your rights
  • Via a will
  • Mortgaging the property
  • Deed

Basic Property Transfers

This is the type of property transfer you see when buying lower-priced goods, like groceries. No one is required to sign a bill of sale or any kind of contract with this type of transaction. Money changes hands. One party gets the property. The other typically gets a receipt. The low value of the goods makes the paperwork unnecessary, but when the value of goods is higher, more paperwork is needed to transfer ownership of goods. If you're dealing with real estate, though, it's more complicated and a bill of sale is needed. A bill of sale:

  • Represents an enforceable agreement
  • Has to be either notarized or witnessed, based on each state's laws

Transferring Property as a Gift

Giving or receiving the property as a gift is a way to transfer ownership. With this type of ownership transfer, the owner who acts as a donor doesn't get paid the full value of the property, and it is handled differently than a property ownership transfer that occurs when a property is sold. Property transferred as a gift is typically handled within a family unit. A witness or notarization is required when the gift is real estate. If the property is taxable, the donor usually pays the tax, but sometimes the recipient does.

Relinquishing Property to Transfer Ownership

Relinquishing rights to real estate can be an enforceable way to transfer property. Different areas handle relinquishments differently, and documentation is always required to make the transfer official.

Transferring Property Through a Will

When a will is used to transfer property, the transfer takes place when the donor passes away. However, neither the heir-apparent, a relative, not anyone else can complete the transfer on the possibility of inheriting. If someone tries to transfer property he or she expects to get via inheritance while the donor is still living, the contract becomes void. It isn't possible to contract to transfer ownership of property you don't own, even if you hope to own it sometime in the future. It's against the law to try to enforce a will prematurely.

Transferring Property by Mortgage or Deed

A mortgage transfers the legal title to a property from the mortgagee to the mortgagor in some states. In other states, a mortgage is a lien on the property, and the mortgagor can sell the property if the mortgagee fails to pay the debt. When an owner transfers property by deed, the deed identifies the new property owner and the seller. The deed also describes the property and must be signed by the owner who is getting rid of the property.

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