On September 21, 2015, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation authorizing the use of “Revocable Transfer on Death Deeds” as an estate planning option for residential property owners. As of this year, owners may use these instruments to bypass the normal probate process when disposing of their homes after death. Several states already permit these types of deeds, although there are concerns about the potential for abuse.
What is a Transfer-on-Death Deed?
Under the new California law, a homeowner may file a deed naming a beneficiary who will automatically inherit the property upon the owner’s death. (The deed may also name multiple beneficiaries.) This means the property will not pass through the deceased owner’s probate estate. A transfer-on-death deed may only be used for residential properties, including condominiums, parcels with four or fewer dwellings, or farms containing 40 acres or less and a single-family home.