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Posted by on Jan 11, 2016 in Jaime Levine |

New Deed Available to Homeowners in California: The Transfer on Death Deed

As of January 1, 2016, California homeowners are able to create a deed that includes beneficiaries. California is the 25th state to allow this type of deed. Text of the new law is contained in Probate Code §5642 to §5644. The Bill that created the law is AB 139. Full information about the legislation is available here.

While the idea behind the law is to allow a homeowner to transfer property without probate, the details of this particular law are complex. As with any complex legal issue, it is advisable to discuss this issue with an attorney. Here are a few notes on the use of the Transfer on Death Deed:

  • Must be signed, dated and notarized by the transferor
  • Must be recorded within 60 days of execution in the county where the property is situated
  • Beneficiary receives stepped up cost basis for tax purposes
  • Does not protect against SSI or Medi-Cal claims
  • Applies to one to four residential dwelling units, condominium units, or not more than 40 acres of agricultural land with a single-family residence
  • Multiple beneficiaries may be named – ownership interests will be divided equally among them, as tenants in common
  • The California Law Revision Commission must report back to the Legislature by January 1, 2020, to report whether it is working effectively and whether it should be continued
  • TOD deed takes effect upon death of surviving Joint Tenant or surviving Community Property Owner, if held in that form

There is much more to this legislation. As such a discussion with an attorney is advisable when considering the use of a Transfer on Death Deed.