The revocable transfer on death deed, California Probate Code Section 5600
et seq. goes into effect on January 1, 2016. It will take time to see
how this new process will work, but here are the basics.
Some ins and outs of the new California Probate Code:
- A person records a transfer on death deed and upon their death the property
passes to a named beneficiary without probate. The beneficiary has no
vested right in the property until the death of the owner and the property
owner may change beneficiaries until their death so long as the deed is
- Beneficiaries must be named. You cannot transfer the property to “my
children” or “my grandchildren.” If a named beneficiary
dies before you, you must either execute another deed or probate is required
to transfer the property.
- The deed must be recorded within sixty days of your notarized signature
or it is not valid.
- A husband and wife who hold property as community property or joint tenants
must each execute their own revocable transfer on death deed. If you are
the first person to die, the deed is void and the entirety of the property
is transferred to your spouse or joint tenant. If you are the last person
to die, the property passes to the beneficiaries you have selected.
- If after creating the deed you then dispose of the property differently
via a will or trust, that document must be recorded or a revocation of
the revocable transfer on death deed must be executed, otherwise the revocable
transfer on death deed controls the disposition of the property.
- Like any other estate planning document, the property passes subject to
the debts of the owner. It does not change any gift or estate taxes which
may be owed by the decedent’s estate. It also is subject to the
Medi-Cal recovery process.
If you are considering a revocable transfer, consult an Alameda County
estate planning lawyer today!
When to Use a Revocable Transfer on a Death Deed
These deeds are best for short time horizons: for those who will die soon
or as place holders for individuals without formal estate planning. These
may include seniors who have children who are nearly certain to outlive
them, new divorcees, and young singles buying their first property.
In all cases, if a trust is possible, one should be executed because it
both avoids probate and can pre-plan for contingencies, like the unexpected
death of a beneficiary, without requiring a new document. A trust also
keeps the details of one’s estate plans private until their death
while the deed is recorded and publicly available.
Consult With an Alameda County Estate Planning Attorney
If you desire to start formally planning your estate or have questions
regarding revocable transfers on death deeds, then please contact Hannah
Sargent. She is an experienced Alameda County estate planning attorney
and will provide you with sound legal guidance.