Transfer on Death Deed Law and Legal Definition

A transfer on death deed allows a property owner to directly transfer the ownership of real estate at the owner's death to whomever the owner designates by name. It is a method for avoiding probate of real estate when the owner doesn't need the tax benefits of a trust. However, any estate taxes that may be due are not avoided.

Transfer on death deeds are governed by state laws, which vary by state. Generally, the beneficiary has no interest in the property until the owner dies and has no effect on the present ownership of real property. It has an advantage over adding the heir to the deed while alive, in that it can be revoked or changed without the heir's consent. However, if multiple owners create a transfer on death deed, then the last one surviving can revoke the deed or change the beneficiaries against the wishes of the deceased owners.