Transfer Deeds & Beneficiary Deeds
Two ways for real estate to avoid Probate are by transferring property to your Trust or using a Beneficiary Deed.
What is a Transfer Deed (to your Trust)?
A Transfer Deed transfers title from you individually (or as a couple) to you--"as Trustee of your Trust." While you are alive, this makes little difference. You can still sell your house, apply for a mortgage, etc. However, when you die, this distinction allows your Trust to give any real estate to your heirs without going through the Probate* courts.
What is a Beneficiary Deed?
A Beneficiary Deed is a type of deed that allows you to give real property to another individual upon death. A few characteristics:
1. Property transferred by Beneficiary Deed avoids Probate.
2. You can have a single beneficiary or multiple beneficiaries.
3. The title does not transfer upon creating your Beneficiary Deed. Instead, the transfer of title would only occur upon your passing.
4. You can revoke or amend your Beneficiary Deed anytime during your lifetime.
*Probate is an expensive, time-consuming, court-ordered process to which a decedent’s property is subject upon death. Exceptions for real estate include (1) transfer of ownership via a Beneficiary Deed and (2) transfer of ownership via a Trust.
Which is better?
It depends on the client's needs. Trusts are ultimately a more customizable instrument. However, a Beneficiary Deed is an excellent option if your estate plan is not utilizing a Trust.