Updated February 15, 2019
One of the easiest ways to avoid probate is to transfer your house using a special type of deed recognized in Missouri and Kansas. This type of deed is known by various names: a beneficiary deed or transfer on death deed, but the effect is the same. It allows you to retain ownership of your house while designating who should receive the property upon your death. It’s smart to consider using this type of deed given its flexibility and benefits. If you consider your house to be your main asset, this one is for you.
A transfer on death deed does not go into effect until you and your spouse pass
A nice thing about a transfer on death deed (or TOD deed) is that you do not give up control over your real estate while you’re still alive. Just like other types of beneficiary designations, the TOD deed doesn’t go into effect until you pass. Your beneficiaries will have no right to your property while you are alive and you can sell, mortgage, transfer, assign new beneficiaries, or revoke the deed. If your home is jointly owned, the transfer on death deed does not apply until all the co-owners have died.
You are in control.
A TOD deed can be revoked at any time. If you change your mind, just revoke the old one or have a new one prepared with different beneficiaries. This allows you to transfer your home without going through probate and ensuring your home is placed into the hands of your beneficiaries as fast as possible. It is part of a simple and smart estate planning strategy.
Doesn’t impact your mortgage.
A properly crafted TOD deed will not impact your mortgage. Any liens or other claims against the property will generally carry over to the beneficiaries meaning that your beneficiaries take the property subject to any mortgages secured by the property. If you still owe money or a contractor has a lien on your home, your beneficiary will inherit these responsibilities along with your property.
The transfer on death deed is a non-probate transfer
Just as with other beneficiary designations, the rights of the beneficiaries on your transfer-on-death deed supersede those of the people you name in your will. For example, if you give a property to your sibling in your will, but your children are named as the beneficiaries on the TOD deed, your kids receive the real estate.
Please contact us with any questions about your estate plan or this article. We are here to help.
Attorney Todd Rasmussen is responsible for the content in this blog. His wills and trusts law firm, Estate Planning Kansas City, helps clients with their estate planning needs. This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to render legal advice. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be made solely on the basis of this article.