Removing a Deceased Co-owner’s Name from a Real Estate Deed in Alaska

As of 2014, Alaska allows two forms of survivorship tenancy for real property: tenancy by the entirety and community property with right of survivorship (AS 34.15.140; AS 34.77.110). These options are only available to married couples.

In general, a survivorship tenancy in Alaska means that if one co-owner dies, his/her share of property rights transfer to the living owner by function of law, avoiding the need for probate distribution. On the surface, this sounds simple, but what happens if the remaining owner decides to sell the real estate? The website for Alaska’s probate court directs survivors to execute and record a new deed, including a certified copy of the deceased spouse’s death certificate, with the Alaska Recorder’s Office in the recording district in which the property is located.

Another option is to execute a new deed from the original grantors (spouses) that identifies only the remaining spouse as grantee. By recording the new deed, accompanied by a certified copy of the relevant death certificate, he/she helps to maintain a clear chain of title (ownership history). It makes sense to update this information shortly after the spouse’s death, perhaps as a step in closing out the estate. In addition to keeping the records current, this might simplify future sales by eliminating the need to access a copy of the death certificate.

View Available Alaska Real Estate Deed Forms