States That Allow Transfer-On-Death Deeds for Real Estate

An easy and inexpensive way to bypass probate court when you leave real estate.

For most homeowners, keeping a house out of probate is their biggest probate-avoidance wish—and challenge. A living trust works well, but not everyone wants to go to the expense and trouble of creating one. Joint tenancy isn't always the best option, either. Here's good news: A growing number of states now offer an easy and effective alternative for real estate that's located within their borders, and other states are considering adopting it.

This alternative is called a transfer-on-death (TOD) deed (also called a beneficiary deed in some states). It's like a regular deed used to transfer real estate, with a crucial difference: It doesn't take effect until your death. For further information on TOD deeds, see Transfer-on-Death Deeds: An Overview.

If you own real estate in any of the states listed below, you can use a TOD deed to leave that real estate to someone. Like regular deeds, TOD deeds must be signed, notarized, and filed in the land records office (often called a register of deeds, recorder of deeds, or combined with a county clerk's office) in the county where your real estate is located. You don't have to be a resident of the state to use a TOD deed.

States Where You Can Make a TOD Deed or Beneficiary Deed

Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
District of Columbia
Hawaii
Illinois
Indiana
Kansas
Maine
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Mexico
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
South Dakota
Texas
Utah
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

How to Make a Transfer-on-Death Deed in Your State

To make a deed that complies with your state's specific laws, you can also use a reputable software program like WillMaker, which offers guided interviews to help you complete a TOD deed that's valid in the state where you own real estate. An estate planning lawyer can also help you draft a TOD deed if your situation is more complicated, or if you have any questions. But if you're thinking about hiring a lawyer, you might also consider whether a living trust suits your aims better than a TOD deed. (See Transfer on Death Deeds vs. Living Trusts.)

If you don't see your state on this list, it likely doesn't allow transfer-on-death deeds yet, but might adopt them in the future. More and more states are headed in this direction.

Talk to a Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
Get Professional Help

Talk to a Probate attorney.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you