What is a Transfer on Death Deeds?
Transfer on Death Deeds is the least expensive way to transfer real property without having to go through the headache of probate or creating a revocable living trust.
Beginning January 2016 and lasting until January 2021, revocable transfer on death deeds are currently legal in California. Revocable means that you can change the deed anytime before you die by naming a new beneficiary or selling your property. Similarly, you can designate a bank account or brokerage account as a payable on death POD account. A revocable transfer on death lets you name beneficiaries for real property, such as your house. Upon death, your recipients become the property owners by filing specific legal forms, including an affidavit, a death certificate, and a notice of change of ownership. That’s it. No probate and no trust administration is necessary.
The revocable transfer on death deed must be similar to the statutory form of the CA Probate Code. Includes name of grantor, full names of beneficiaries and relationship to grantor including property description, and a statement saying that grantor now transfers all their ownership in the described property to named beneficiaries upon death.
Transfer on death deeds must be notarized and recorded within sixty days of signing to be active and can be revoked at any time during the grantor’s life if a beneficiary dies before the grantor does, their gift lapses and goes to the surviving beneficiaries if any. If no beneficiary survives, the transfer doesn’t happen.
To use a transfer on death deed, an owner of real property must have the legal capacity to sign a contract. Thus a higher standard than that required to sign a Will and must obviously be the owner of the property being transferred. Any such property transferred will still be subject to any liens or encumbrances that are attached to the real property. Always, it will not be subject to an estate recovery claim for MediCal reimbursement because a transfer on death deed passes outside of probate. If you are transferring your house to a family member, this creates a different issue in how to maintain your low property tax rate.