Transfer on Death Deeds: The Basic Details

As you begin your estate plan and Last Will and Testament, you might have concerns over how to quickly and easily provide for loved ones and possibly avoid the hassle of probate. If you own property and do not want to create additional stress for your beneficiaries, consider adding a Transfer on Death Deed to your plan. 

Document Definition 

A Transfer on Death Deed is a legally-binding document that transfers the ownership interest of property upon the death of the primary owner. The transfer of ownership rights does not go into effect until after the original property owner has died. 


One advantage of using a Transfer on Death Deed is it allows your property to circumvent the probate process. Your loved ones won't have to wait for months to receive this part of your estate.

Another advantage of this document is that it simplifies the transfer of property and makes everything less complicated for the executor of your estate. Without this deed, your intended beneficiary cannot legally take ownership of the property until probate has finished.

Not all states allow the use of Transfer on Death Deeds — see the list below for states that don't recognize this document:

  • Alabama

  • Connecticut

  • Delaware

  • Georgia

  • Idaho

  • Iowa

  • Kentucky

  • Louisiana

  • Maine

  • Maryland

  • Massachusetts

  • Michigan

  • Mississippi

  • New Hampshire

  • New Jersey

  • New York

  • North Carolina

  • Pennsylvania

  • Rhode Island

  • South Carolina

  • Tennessee

  • Utah

  • Vermont 

Creating a Transfer on Death Deed

Creating a legally-binding transfer deed is a fairly simple process that can be done without hiring an attorney. You will need the information listed in the original property deed and the contact information for your intended beneficiary. 

Signing and Recording the Transfer Deed

The Transfer on Death Deed must be signed in front of a notary to be legally valid. After signing, you must submit the deed to your local county records office. You may also want to keep a copy of the form with the other documents of your estate plan.

Changing or Revoking a Transfer on Death Deed

If necessary, the Transfer on Death Deed can be revoked or changed. Contact the county records office about the forms to revoke the transfer deed. You can also make changes by filing a new document. 

How to Use a Transfer on Death Deed 

The Transfer on Death Deed is not meant to take the place of a will or living trust. You can use the deed along with your will or living trust as an added layer of protection for your estate.

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