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While most of us know about a last will and testament, the assets that are included in your will can sometimes get tied up in probate. This can be a long and costly process and often prevents your loved ones from getting a hold of the things you left them for quite some time.

If you'd like to avoid having your property going through the probate process, it's a good idea to look into a transfer on death deed.

A transfer on death deed allows you to select a beneficiary who will receive your property, but only when you've passed away. The beneficiary will have no right to your property while you're alive and, if you own your home jointly, the transfer on death deed does not apply until all the owners have died. You can name alternate beneficiaries as well, in the event your beneficiary refuses your property or isn't around to receive it.

To make a transfer on death deed legal, you'll need to take it to the local county records office where the property is located. Of course, different localities will have different rules, so make sure you follow the instructions of your county recorder.

Here are a few other important notes about transfer on death deeds:

  • They can be revoked: You can either go to your county recorded and request a revocation form or create a new transfer on death deed that replaces the original.
  • The deed will include mortgages, liens, etc.: If you still owe money or your home or if a contractor has a lien on it, your beneficiary will inheret these responsibilities along with your property.

Lastly, note that a transfer on death deed cannot be used in every state. Below, find a list of states that do allow a transfer on death deed:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Michigan (called a Ladybird Deed)
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

A transfer on death deed is one of the easiest ways to transfer property. If you live in one of the states listed above, it's a smart idea to consider including it in your estate plan. If you're not sure this is the right tool for you, you can always speak with an attorney who can help you sort this out.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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