Deeds FAQ

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What is a transfer-on-death deed?

These deeds, often called TOD or beneficiary deeds, are like regular deeds except for one very important difference: They don’t take effect until your death. They’re used to leave real estate without probate court proceedings.

Using a TOD deed avoids probate because after your death, the beneficiary named on the deed takes ownership of the property immediately. There’s no probate paperwork or delay.

Filling out a TOD deed, which clearly states that it doesn’t take effect until your death, is like filling out a regular deed. You name the beneficiary, sign the deed, get it notarized, and file (record) it with your local property records office.

TOD deeds are currently allowed in 23 states: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Be sure to use a deed form that contains all the elements required by your state. You can get state-specific downloadable Transfer-on-Death (Beneficiary) Deeds from Nolo. 

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