Transfer On Death Deed

The Transfer on Death Deed (TOD Deed) has become a valuable legal instrument.

It allows individuals to transfer their real property to designated beneficiaries upon their demise.

This legal tool has gained prominence due to its simplicity and efficiency.

Thus, it makes it a compelling option for many individuals seeking to streamline the distribution of assets.

What Is A Transfer On Death Deed (TOD)?

A Transfer on Death Deed is a legally recognized document that facilitates the transfer of real property.

These include a home or land to specified beneficiaries upon the property owner’s death

Key Features Of A Transfer On Death Deed

Non-Probate Transfer:

One of the primary advantages of a Transfer of Death Deed is that it bypasses the probate process.

Upon the property owner’s death, the property automatically transfers to the named beneficiary without court involvement.

This expedites asset distribution and minimizes associated costs and delays.


A TOD Deed is revocable during the property owner’s lifetime.

This means that the property owner can change their designated beneficiary or even cancel the deed altogether, providing flexibility and control.

Property Ownership During Lifetime:

The property owner retains full ownership and control of the property during their lifetime.

They can sell, mortgage, or otherwise deal with the property as they see fit without interference from the TOD Deed.

Beneficiary Designation:

The property owner can designate one or more beneficiaries to receive the property upon death.

These beneficiaries can be individuals, organizations, or even trusts.

Requirements For Creating A TOD Deed

To create a valid Transfer on Death Deed, specific legal requirements must be met:


The property owner must have the legal capacity to create a TOD Deed.

It typically means being of sound mind and at least 18 years old.

In Writing:

The TOD Deed must be in writing and meet the statutory form requirements prescribed by the state where the property is located.


The TOD Deed must be notarized.

This will ensure its authenticity.


It must be recorded in the county where the property is situated.

The recording provides notice to third parties and ensures the deed’s validity.

Beneficiary Designation:

The TOD Deed should identify the named beneficiary or beneficiaries.

It’s crucial to provide their full legal names and contact information.


The TOD Deed should outline the process for revocation.

This includes creating a subsequent TOD Deed or a written revocation document.

Advantages Of A Transfer On Death Deed

The advantages of a Transfer On Death Deed are:

Privacy: Probate proceedings are generally public, but a TOD Deed allows for a more private transfer of assets, keeping details of the transfer confidential.

Flexibility: The property owner can change beneficiaries or revoke the TOD Deed if circumstances change.

Minimized Legal Costs: With no need for probate, legal fees associated with the transfer are reduced.

Considerations And Limitations

While a TOD Deed offers numerous advantages, it may not suit every estate plan.

Some considerations and limitations include:

Property Ownership: TOD Deeds are limited to real property and cannot be used for other assets like bank accounts or personal property.

Beneficiary Challenges: Complications may arise if beneficiaries cannot be located or disputes arise.

Creditors’ Claims: Creditors may have a limited period to make claims against the property after the owner’s death, depending on state laws.

Example: The Smith Family Estate

Background Scenario: 

John and Mary Smith are a retired couple in their 70s with three adult children: Sarah, Michael, and Emily.

They own a valuable family home that they want to pass down to their children without the hassle of probate.

They decide to use a Transfer on Death Deed in their will to achieve this.

Transfer On Death Deed: 

In their will, John and Mary Smith specify that upon their passing, their family home, located at 123 Oak Street, Anytown, USA, should be transferred to their three children equally as joint tenants with rights of survivorship.

This means that if one of the children were to pass away, their share would automatically be inherited by the surviving siblings.

They include a Transfer on Death Deed provision for the property in their will, naming Sarah, Michael, and Emily as the beneficiaries.

This deed ensures that the property will pass to their children. This will be without the need for probate.