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What Is a Transfer on Death Deed?

Jupiter payable on death deed

A transfer on death deed provides that the property title automatically and immediately transfers to a designated person upon the owner’s death.  A transfer on death deed is often used as a will substitute as it allows people to efficiently transfer their homes to their designated heir outside of the cumbersome and expensive probate process.

If a will is overlooked, state law and beneficiary designations on financial accounts or property will control what happens next.  The Williamson Daily News’ recent article entitled “Estate planning ensures your wishes are carried out” explains that intestate succession, which means the deceased didn’t have a will, isn’t always a simple process. For example, there might be issues with multiple marriages with children.

If only living children survive the decedent, the children will get equal shares. That may or may not be a fantastic idea, especially when all of the children may not have been a positive part of their parent’s life.

If some helped a lot and others caused problems, a parent might opt to give more to some than to others. The best way to assure that result is with a will.

That’s especially true in cases where one or more of the children served as the caregiver. Thus, the intent of the parent may be to pass the family home to the primary caregiver.

In some states, for this to occur, a will is no longer needed.

For example, in West Virginia, a property transfer called a transfer on death deed can make sure that a specific person or caregiver gets the home and property at a future time. Transfer on death deeds are not available in every state. In particular, Florida law does not provide for transfer on death deeds. Florida has not adopted the Uniform Real Property Transfer on Death Act, which would otherwise allow people to use a transfer on death deed for their property.

However, a lady bird deed can accomplish the same thing as a TOD deed. A Florida lady bird deed allows the owner to transfer a house on death via deed.

A Florida lady bird deed is a special kind of property deed that allows a real property owner to retain use and control over a property during their life and then transfer the property to designated heirs upon the owner’s death without having to deal with probate. A lady bird deed includes features of a deed with a retained life estate and of a deed with transfer on death provisions.
A lady bird deed therefore has two roles:

A grantor—the current owner of the property and the person who will live in and control the property during their lifetime.

A grantee—the person who will inherit the property upon the grantor’s death. This person is called the remainderman.

You need to work with an experienced estate planning attorney on a transfer on death deed.

The difference between a lady bird deed and a quitclaim deed in Florida is that a lady bird deed allows the current property owner to retain an enhanced life estate in the property during his life, while a quit claim deed typically transfers all title and rights to the property to the grantee, or the person receiving the property.

In other words, a lady bird deed is that it functions as a quit claim deed that only becomes effective after death under Florida law.

If you would like to discuss your legacy options with an estate planning attorney in Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, or Naples, Florida, schedule a complimentary call with Edward J. Welch at Welch Law, PLLC.  At Welch Law, WE WANT TO DRAFT YOUR LEGACY!

Reference: Williamson (WV) Daily News (April 21, 2021) “Estate planning ensures your wishes are carried out”


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