Right now, over half of the states across the country allow for homeowners to transfer property with a simple real estate deed that helps avoid the probate process. Called a beneficiary or transfer on death deed, more and more people are working with their estate planning attorneys to use these deeds in lieu of probate. With the growing trend of using these deeds, more states are lining up legislation that would allow for this probate-free transfer to work for their citizens, as well.
Beneficiary Real Estate Deed
Depending on the state, the document is either referred to as a beneficiary real estate deed or a transfer on death (TOD) deed. This deed can be as simple as a single page in length, and the purpose of the document is to allow real estate to pass automatically to the person or people named as beneficiaries without the need for probate.
The deed does not take effect until the current owner passes away, and up until that point the beneficiaries of the deed can be modified or revoked. The deed can also be modified or removed up until the owner passes away, and these deeds are filed with the Recorder’s Office in the county where the property is located. Missouri was the first state to allow beneficiary deeds, but Ohio law also allows for the creation of this probate-free asset transfer. Currently, 24 states and the District of Columbia allow for transfer on death deeds for property.
Benefits of a TOD Deed
There are many benefits to avoiding probate and transferring property through this type of deed. First, you avoid the time, expenses, and stress of publicly declaring all of your assets, including the real estate, in the probate process. In addition, beneficiaries do not need permission to refinance or sell the home because the property does not become theirs until the current owner dies. On the flip side, the current owner does not need to worry about losing the home because of a beneficiary’s current financial state.
Other Options for Probate-Free Transfers
Besides the use of a beneficiary deed, there are other ways to pass along large assets like real estate without needing to go through probate. Living trusts are the most popular option that allow for probate-free transfers of property and are applicable in all fifty states. In addition, the trust can also include financial and healthcare powers of attorney or include smaller distributions to beneficiaries of other assets while the owner is still alive.
Call an Estate Planning Attorney Now
Probate can be lengthy and complex, so using tools like a TOD deed can help expedite the process. If you or someone that you know has questions regarding the probate process or other estate planning needs in Akron, Youngstown, Aurora, or Warren, let the experienced Law Office of John C. Grundy help. Call the office or contact us today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.