How to Revoke a Transfer-on-Death Deed

If you change your mind after you record a TOD deed, you can always revoke the deed.

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If you change your mind after you record a TOD deed, leaving real estate to someone at your death, you can revoke the deed. The beneficiary has absolutely no rights over the property until after your death.

But first, a caution: Don't use your will to try to revoke a transfer-on-death deed. It won't work.

EXAMPLE: Betty records a TOD deed leaving her house to her niece Emily, who has been a great help to her during a serious illness. In her will, she leaves everything else to her son, who lives far away. Years later, when Betty gets around to revising her will, she decides that her son should inherit the house after all. In her will, she states that he is to inherit the house. When Betty dies, Emily will automatically own the house, despite what the will says. The will won't have effect on the recorded deed.

Record a Revocation

The clearest way to make your intention clear is to sign a simple document revoking the TOD deed and record it just like you recorded the original deed. Then the public records show that the deed was revoked. A sample revocation (taken from the Arkansas statute) is shown below.

Generally, all co-owners should sign the revocation. If you own the property with someone else and you all have the right of survivor­ship, the revocation isn't effective unless it's signed by the last surviving owner.

EXAMPLE: Joyce and Eric own their house in tenancy by the entirety, which gives each of them the right of survivorship. They sign and record a TOD deed leaving the house to their daughter. Later, Joyce records a revocation. If she dies first, Eric will be the sole owner. Because he didn't sign the revocation, it will have no effect, and their daughter will inherit the property when Eric dies.

Sample Revocation of Transfer-on-Death Deed (Arkansas)


Revocation of BENEFICIARY DEED

CAUTION: THIS REVOCATION MUST BE RECORDED PRIOR TO THE DEATH OF THE GRANTOR IN ORDER TO BE EFFECTIVE.


The undersigned hereby revokes the beneficiary deed recorded on July 19, 20xx, instrument number 3388449, records of Lane County, Arkansas.

Date: September 4, 20xx

Signature of grantor(s): Marilee N. Simmons

[Notarization]

Record a New TOD Deed

You can also simply sign and record a new TOD deed, leaving the property to someone else. Most states' laws specifically say that if there is more than one TOD deed, only the most recent one is valid. It's still clearer, however, to record a revocation and then a new deed.

Transfer the Property to Someone Else

You are free to give away or sell the property that you've left in a TOD deed. If you no longer own the property at your death, the TOD deed will have no effect.

by: , J.D.

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