Scenario: My father has been through financial problems throughout his life. 10 years ago, he and my mom have had negative credit scores due to past uses with the IRS and he even had his wages garnished. However he could scrape by and later on I helped him out by buying a home with a mortgage thereby having my name both on mortgage and title. I knew I would end up selling the property if they didn’t make payments on the mortgage as my security and I could always deduct the mortgage interest on my returns. He promised to pay off the mortgage within 2 years and in return I would give away the property to him right after that. But it's over 6 years and the loan isn't paid off.

I have had to take out cash from my savings to keep the payments on time. The property has gone up in value over the years but my relationship with my dad has worsened. He feels I'm into stealing his money which isn't true. My dad wants me to sign over the property to him. And he's also looking for lenders to refinance the loan as the quitclaim would leave the mortgage payoff responsibility entirely on my shoulders. I'd like to make sure that my name is removed from the mortgage debt if at all I transfer the property and would like to know about the tax implications. Is such a transfer possible using a quitclaim? I don't want to sell and out him in a precarious situation because he can't make payments as he's on social security only and in order to save a bit more, he's looking for a refinance.

Solution:

If you're looking to take your name off the title, you need to execute a quitclaim deed approved by your state and sign it over to your father. But, prior to recording the deed, get it signed by a notary public.

However, while you transfer the property using a quitclaim deed, your responsibility towards the mortgage doesn't end as the deed does not free you from the mortgage payment liability. So, here's why your father needs to do a refinance. While he refinances the existing loan with a new one in his name alone, yours is taken away from the loan doc and therefore neither are you on the title nor on the loan.

As far as taking your name off the loan is concerned, you can also request your father to talk to the lender and look into the chances of a Novation - a process by which you can simply transfer the loan to your father. But given the fact that your father has had credit and finance problems, depending upon how long they have been affecting his credit and finances, he may or may not be allowed a Novation.

However, refinance can still be a possibility if he's looking for a reverse mortgage. But in order to qualify, he needs to be 62 years and above. Also, if your father has good amount of equity in the home, he'll be able to get a higher loan amount with which he can pay off the current mortgage. Moreover, the property should be his primary residence and as such he needs to have his name on the title. And that's possible only when you sign over the quitclaim deed.

The best part of taking out a reverse mortgage is, one does not have to pay back on a monthly basis. The reverse mortgage needs to be paid back only when the last surviving borrower dies or sells property or moves out.

Now, considering the tax implications of doing a quitclaim, well, if you sign over the deed, you're the grantor and hence it's your liability to pay taxes. If you quitclaim property without taking any money in return from your father, the transfer is regarded as a gift and the value of the gift will be the value of the property at the time of the transfer (here the value has appreciated). Now, if the value of the gift does not exceed the annual exclusion limit of $12000 (for 2008) per year per person then the donor (here it’s you) need not pay federal tax on the gift.

However, if the value of the gift exceeds $12000 and you have already given up $1,000,000 in gifts in total till now in your life, you'll have to pay the federal gift tax. Otherwise you need not have any tax liability as such upon transfer of property. The total gift amount of $1,000,000 is the lifetime exemption for paying federal gift tax.

While the value of the gift at the time of transfer helps you decide whether to pay gift tax, it enables the recipient, your father, to determine if a deduction is available when he sells the property at a loss.

Author's Bio: 

Samantha Taylor is a contributing writer and moderator of Mortgagefit.com forums. She specializes in mortgage and real estate field.