How do you keep your house, or other valuable real estate, out of probate? If you own it jointly with your spouse or someone else, it's a simple matter to hold title in a way that lets the survivor inherit without probate. But if it's in your name alone, your two main options are a living trust or a transfer-on-death deed. These deeds are now available in more than a dozen states, and others are considering allowing them as well.
A transfer-on-death (TOD) deed, also called a beneficiary deed, looks like a regular deed used to transfer real estate. But there's a crucial difference: It doesn't take effect until your death. You must record (file) the deed with the local land records office before your death, but you are free to change your mind and revoke the deed at any time during your life.