Details of a Transfer on Death Deed

If you are concerned about the process allowing your loved ones to receive parts of your estate, you may be interested in adding a Transfer on Death Deed to your estate arrangement.

Document Definition

A Transfer on Death Deed, also known as a beneficiary deed, is a legally binding document allowing one party to transfer ownership interest of a property upon death. The ownership rights in this document only go into effect after the original property owner has died.


One advantage of the Transfer on Death Deed is it allows your intended beneficiary to receive ownership of property without the hassle of probate. 

Depending on the size of the estate going through probate, the process can take several months and include additional expenses. The transfer deed avoids the probate procedure all together and allows your loved ones to be cared for much faster.

Most states allow the use of Transfer on Death Deeds, however, the following states do not recognize this document as being legally valid:

  • 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

You can create a legally binding transfer deed without the assistance of an attorney. All you need to do is include all of the property information contained in the original deed and the name of your intended beneficiary. You may also want to name alternate beneficiaries in the event your primary choice is not available. 

Signing and Recording the Transfer Deed

For a Transfer on Death Deed to be legally valid, it must be signed by the original property owner in the presence of a notary public. The intended beneficiary does not have to sign the document, but the deed must be submitted to the local County Records Office. A copy of the transfer deed should also be kept with your other estate plan documents.

Revoking the Deed

A Transfer on Death Deed can be revoked as long as you are mentally capable of making the decision. You can either file a form to revoke the deed with your local County Records Office or create and file a separate new document. 

Role of a Transfer on Death Deed

The Transfer on Death Deed is not meant to take the place of a Last Will and Testament. Both documents can be used in conjunction with one another to ensure no part of your estate falls through the cracks. You can also use the deed with a living trust as an added layer of protection of your estate.

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