What Is a Transfer on Death Deed (Beneficiary Deed)?
A Transfer on Death Deed or Beneficiary Deed is a special type of Property Deed completed to transfer ownership of real property. The document names the individual or company that will inherit real estate in its entirety or its share once the current owner passes away.
- TOD Deed;
- TODD Form.
When you fill out and sign a Beneficiary Deed, you officially give your interest in the real property to a beneficiary. This document is often used when a beneficiary is not of legal age, when several beneficiaries will get to own certain shares of the property, or when the property belongs to joint tenants with the established right of survivorship.
It is a simple estate planning instrument, usually no more than one or two pages, that must be filed with the county registrar in the location of the real property. The main purpose of this Transfer on Death Deed is to avoid the difficult and time-consuming probate process - once you completed and signed this Deed, the real estate in question is kept out of probate and goes directly to the beneficiary.
Do I Need a Transfer on Death Deed?
There are multiple benefits to composing a Transfer on Death Deed:
- You will be able to register this document in the public records - this process is quick and not very expensive. This way, you add an extra level of protection to the Deed by making sure authorities are aware of your wishes regarding the real property.
- If you must, you are allowed to revoke the Deed during your lifetime. In case you have disagreements with the beneficiary (usually, a family member or a close friend) and decide not to transfer any real estate to their possession, you can cancel the Deed altogether.
- You can avoid adding the potential beneficiary as a co-owner (joint tenant) to the property title - you will still remain the sole owner of your estate and can exercise your rights to sell or transfer it whenever you want.
Transfer on Death Deed Forms by State
Every state creates its own laws and requirements to regulate various Deed Forms – this applies to Transfer on Death Deed as well. For instance, the real property you wish to transfer to the beneficiary may be a part of your probate estate for tax purposes or a state might not allow the application of gift taxes since a Deed of this kind cannot be considered a present. Certain states also do not recognize the notion of “joint tenants” or you might be asked to find witnesses who will watch you sign the Deed and then provide their signatures.
Before you compose a Beneficiary Deed, learn about specific regulations for your state. You will have to use particular wording and format so that your document is accepted by the local registrar of Deeds - otherwise, it may be considered invalid and later contested by concerned parties.
How to Create a Transfer on Death Deed?
Provide the following information in your Beneficiary Deed Form:
- Identification of the beneficiary. It is allowed to name anyone as the beneficiary of the Deed - one person, many people, or a certain organization. Very often the beneficiary is a family member, friend, or the benefactor's preferred charity fund.
- Full description of the property you leave to the beneficiary through the Deed.
- Signature of the property owner. If you own the estate with someone else, for example, your spouse, you both have to sign this document. It is necessary to obtain the notary public's acknowledgment of your intent to transfer the property via the Beneficiary Deed.
How to File a Transfer on Death Deed?
To make a Transfer on Death Form valid, you need to create a record of it in the local records office. In order to file it, you must appear in front of a land records clerk of the location in which your real property is situated. Bring the Deed along with a form of identification. Depending on the state, you might have to pay a small filing fee. The clerk will examine your ID and documentation, make a photocopy of your original document for the county's filing system, and return the Deed to your safekeeping.
You can draft a revocable Transfer on Death Deed - it can be canceled before the death of the legal owner. There are three ways to revoke this Deed:
- Fill out a revocation of the Transfer on Death Deed Form and bring it to the county clerk for registration;
- Create another Deed to name a different beneficiary - it will automatically replace the old document and all other deeds in the public records;
- Transfer the real estate listed on the Deed to anyone you want.
Related Forms and Templates: