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Transfer-on-Death Deeds Become Option In New York

By Dan Rose
Updated on June 3, 2024
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Simply put, a Transfer on Death (TOD) deed is a deed that automatically transfers property (such as a house, condo, or vacant land) to the designated beneficiary upon the death of the property owner without probate.  This facilitates the executor’s expedient disposition of the deceased property owners assets.   A legal beneficiary may be a person or an organization … a charity for instance.  In New York, the TOD option takes effect as of July 19, 2024.

Death designations on bank accounts automatically go to the designee upon the account owner’s death.  TOD deeds will operate in much the same way.  TOD deeds need to be signed before two witnesses and notarized (before the owner’s death) in the clerk’s office in the county where the property is located.  Like the same standards apply to a TOD deed as in making a Will, the property owner needs to have capacity, not be under duress, or unduly influenced.  The property owner remains in control of the property meaning they can sell or mortgage the property at will.  The designee of the property is responsible for liens or mortgages the property is subject to at the owner’s death.  The transfer lapses if the beneficiary does not survive the owner, it is therefore necessary to designate an alternate beneficiary in the TOD deed or by having a qualified attorney to outline provisions in other estate planning documents.  It is important to note that if  joint owners transfer property by TOD deed, the transfer to the beneficiary is not effective until all the owners pass away.

The property owner can revoke a TOD deed by a notarized and recorded document and assign a new beneficiary designation on another TOD deed, providing more control than a deed reserving a life estate.  A TOD deed cannot be revoked by a provision in a Will.  Transfer on death allows for the avoidance of a probate or administration proceeding as to that asset, preventing  delay and expense of estate proceedings and avoiding a contested estate.

A TOD deed avoids the problems inherent in a deed reserving a life estate, in that the property owner can revoke the TOD deed and otherwise retains control over the property.

While there are benefits to utilizing a TOD deed in New York it is assumed that, as with all additions/changes to legal procedures, a variety of legal issues may arise.  It is always advisable to consult an experienced deed transfer attorney and have them guide you through the process.  Never pass up the opportunity to acquire expert advice, it can save you from umpteen headaches, stresses and unnecessary expenses.


This article is for educational purposes only – to provide you with general information, not to provide specific legal advice.  Use of this post does not create an attorney-client relationship and information contained herein should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state.

New York real estate laws can be complex, contact that the experts at Aronov Law NY now for a full understanding Transfer-on-Death Deeds and how they pertain to NY real estate law.

 

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