Using a “Transfer on Death” Deed As an Estate Planning Tool in Wisconsin
A “Transfer on Death” (TOD) Deed can be a useful tool when creating an estate plan. This particular type of deed can streamline the process of conveying real property incident to your death. A Transfer on Death Deed must be recorded with the Register of Deeds in the county where the real property is located. This deed must be recorded with the Register of Deeds before the title owner of that property dies.
A TOD Deed allows a person who owns real property (referred to as the “Grantor”) to name one or more beneficiaries who will receive the property after the Grantor dies. A TOD Deed is a convenient estate planning tool, if executed and recorded properly, because it allows the real property to bypass the probate process. For example, if you own a house and want to leave it to your child after your death, you could record a TOD Deed that names your child as the beneficiary. When you die, your child automatically becomes the owner of the house by operation of law.
There are a few important details to know about Transfer on Death Deeds in Wisconsin. First, the person who creates the TOD Deed retains ownership of the property until he or she dies. A TOD Deed does not affect the person’s ownership of the property during his or her lifetime, and that owner retains all of the rights and responsibilities of property ownership. This kind of deed only becomes effective after the Grantor has died. For example, a transfer of ownership would not be initiated if the Grantor was simply incapacitated.
Second, when a Grantor creates a TOD Deed and dies, the ownership of the property is automatically transferred to the beneficiary. A Grantor can choose to name more than one beneficiary who will receive ownership rights in the property after the Grantor’s death. For example, if you own a house and use a TOD Deed to convey that house to your three children, then each child would own a one-third interest in that house. Naming multiple beneficiaries may be useful, or it may potentially elicit arguments among the beneficiaries about what to do with the property. An attorney can advise on whether a TOD Deed makes sense based on your situation.
Finally, if a Grantor creates a TOD Deed and names one or more beneficiaries, the Grantor retains the power to alter or revoke this deed and create a new one at any time. A TOD Deed may help simplify your estate planning process because it can be created more quickly and easily than most other kinds of estate planning tools. The attorneys at Kelly & Brand, Attorneys and Law, LLC can advise you on whether a Transfer on Death Deed would be useful for you, and if so, they can ensure it is executed and recorded properly.