Beneficiary Deeds, which are sometimes called Transfer on Death Deeds, can be used to transfer real estate, or at least a partial interest in real estate, on the death of an owner, or sometimes the last death of multiple owners. They can be wonderfully efficient tools in the right situation, and provided they are properly drafted and recorded.
I have been amazed at the number of hits we receive concerning these tools – but we rarely hear from readers. That leads me to believe that the readers are:
1. People who love to “do it yourself”;
2. People who are cheap (in other words, don’t want to pay the lawyer); or
3. People who love to live (and die) dangerously
As to doing it yourself, I must use my personal experience as to changing oil on my car. Up until about 10 years ago, I always did this. I went to the store, bought the oil and filter, got under the car, banged up my nuckles trying to get the old filter off, got oil under my fingernails and on my clothes, and still had to get rid of the old oil and filter. All this to save ten bucks!! Finally, I was getting ready to leave town and didn’t have time to do this myself, and decided to cave in and have it done for me. I was amazed!! It took all of 20 minutes, they changed the oil, checked tire pressure, filled my wiper fluid, and did a bunch of other stuff!! And, I didn’t get any oil on my clothes!! What was the point? Well, of course, I was being penny wise and dollar foolish.
When we prepare beneficiary deeds in our office the total expense usually runs about $175, give or take. Yes, it’s about 5 times what my oil change costs. But, in most cases we are dealing with property that is at least ten times more valuable than my car. On top of that, the client knows it is done right, spends less time, and gets the benefit of my knowledge, training, and experience as to whether or not they are doing the right thing. They also don’t have to spend the time finding a form, guessing at how to fill it out, recording it, etc.
I won’t spend time preaching right now on the messes we’ve cleaned up where the deeds were done incorrectly or in inappropriate situations. That would take a while, and you can search this blog for those details.
The sad part is that the original owner (Mom, Dad, etc.) will be gone by the time the problems arise. Somebody will have saved $175. Somebody else will spend thousands, and may never get the property that was intended for them.