Effective January 1, 2016, homeowners in California now have another way to avoid probate court for their real estate: the Revocable Transfer on Death Deed (TODD).
A TODD identifies one or more beneficiaries who should inherit the real estate at the owner(s) death(s), and for many homeowners, can be an inexpensive estate planning tool.
There are other ways real estate in California can avoid probate proceedings, including ownership as community property with rights of survivorship, joint tenants with rights of survivorship, or having the property owned by a living trust, but a TODD can be a great option for both individual and joint property owners for whose estates trusts may not make sense.
A TODD functions like a beneficiary designation for real estate; the deed establishes who should inherit the property when the current owner(s) dies, if they still own an interest in the property at that point. Like other types of beneficiary designations, the TODD is also revocable, so if you create a TODD but later change your mind, you can easily make a change by either filing a new TODD or filing a revocation form.
TODDs can name multiple beneficiaries, although depending on the owners' distribution wishes, sometimes multiple beneficiaries are better served by using a trust to convey property rather than a TODD.
To be valid, a TODD follow the form proscribed by the law, it must be dated and the property owner(s) signature(s) must be notarized. In addition, the deed must be recorded (filed) within 60 days.
For more information about revocable TODDs, see the following:
Keep in mind that everyone's estate is different, so an estate planning strategy or tool that works well for one estate may not be the best option for another. Contact us to learn more about TODDs and to identify the best estate planning strategy for your estate.