How To Avoid Probate for Your Home
Assembly Bill SB139 became effective in 2016 creating the Revocable Transfer on Death Deed (TOD) to transfer real estate to a named beneficiary. With this document in place upon the death of the owner, probate is avoided. This is a simplified and inexpensive method to avoid probate on your home.
A Will is how people generally transfer property to heirs, yet this does not avoid probate. The only way to avoid probate is with a trust. As the owner you probably don’t want to burden your heirs with the expense of going thru probate. In addition to being expensive, probate can take up to a year or longer. And the tasks involved for either the executor or personal representative is very time consuming.
Benefit of Transfer on Death Deed
The primary benefit of creating the transfer on death deed to transfer your home to a named beneficiary, it is easy, quick and inexpensive. The deed has no effect until a person dies, and by its very name can be revoked at any time. You as the owner maintain control while you are living.
For most people, a home is their biggest asset and setting up a trust may be unaffordable, so this is a perfect solution.
Disadvantages of the TOD
If the named beneficiary dies before the owner and a new deed is not recorded, the property will go to probate. If there are minor children named as beneficiaries, the property will be held until they are of legal age. Transfer of Death Deed only covers the real estate, no other assets.
What If I Want to Change the Beneficiary
There are three ways for the owner of real estate to revoke the TOD
- Record a formal notice of revocation
- Record a new TOD with a different beneficiary
- Transfer or sell the property to someone else prior to owner’s death
The TOD is revocable, a person who owns real estate could execute multiple deeds. It is the deed with the most recent recording that takes precedent.
Transfer of Death Deed Requirements
- Only for single family home/condo, or a single family residence on 40 acres or less of agricultural land, or a multi building with no more than 4 units.
- Signed and dated before a notary pubic
- Recorded within 60 days of the date signed
- Recorded with County Recorder’s Office where property is located
Because the transfer of death deed is only for a home, if you have other assets to protect from probate, you should consult an estate planner who can give you the proper guidance on how to handle your estate.