Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

Common questions about the use of a Transfer on Death Deed (part three)

Ask the LDA

Series: Transfer on Death Deed | Story 3

What does my beneficiary need to do when I die? Your beneficiary must do all of the following: (1) RECORD evidence of your death (Prob. Code § 210). (2) File a change in ownership notice (Rev. & Tax. Code § 480). (3) Provide notice to your heirs that includes a copy of this deed and your death certificate (Prob. Code § 5681). Determining who is an "heir" can be complicated. Your beneficiary should consider seeking professional advice to make that determination. (4) RECORD an affidavit affirming that notice was sent to your heirs (Prob. Code § 5682(c)). (5) If you received Medi-Cal benefits, your beneficiary must notify the State Department of Health Care Services of your death and provide a copy of your death certificate (Prob. Code § 215). Your beneficiary may wish to consult a professional for assistance with these requirements.

What if I name more than one beneficiary? Your beneficiaries will become co-owners in equal shares as tenants in common. If you want a different result, you should not use this form.

How do I name beneficiaries? (1) If the beneficiary is a person, you MUST state the person's FULL name. You MAY NOT use general terms to describe beneficiaries, such as "my children." You may also briefly state that person's relationship to you (for example, my spouse, my son, my daughter, my friend, etc.), but this is not required. (2) If the beneficiary is a trust, you MUST name the trust, name the trustee(s) and state the date shown on the trust's signature page. (3) If the beneficiary is a public or private entity, name the entity as precisely as you can.

What if a beneficiary dies before I do? If all beneficiaries die before you, the TOD deed has no effect. If a beneficiary dies before you, but other beneficiaries survive you, the share of the deceased beneficiary will be divided equally between the surviving beneficiaries. If that is not the result you want, you should not use the TOD deed.

What is the effect of a TOD deed on property that I own as joint tenancy or community property with right of survivorship? If you are the first joint tenant or spouse to die, the deed is VOID and has no effect. The property transfers to your joint tenant or surviving spouse and not according to this deed. If you are the last joint tenant or spouse to die, the deed takes effect and controls the ownership of your property when you die. If you do not want these results, do not use this form. The deed does NOT transfer the share of a co-owner of the property. Any co-owner who wants to name a TOD beneficiary must complete and RECORD a SEPARATE deed.

Can I add other conditions on the form? No. If you do, your beneficiary may need to go to court to clear title.

Is property transferred by the TOD Deed subject to my debts? Yes.

Does the TOD deed help me to avoid gift and estate taxes? No.

How does the TOD deed affect property taxes? The TOD deed has no effect on your property taxes until your death. At that time, property tax law applies as it would to any other change of ownership.

Does the TOD deed affect my eligibility for Medi-Cal? No.

Diana Wade is a Legal Document Assistant. She can be reached at (661) 821-0494 or [email protected]. Diana is not an attorney; she can only provide self-help services at your specific direction. Kern County LDA #185, ex 4/11/23.