For many, the family home is an asset unlike any other, not only is it of monetary value but of sentimental value as well. Therefore, the transfer of the family home upon death has become an important issue for many in the estate planning process. A fairly new option in estate planning in Indiana is the Transfer on Death deed of Indiana Code 32-17-14-11, which has been available in Indiana since July 1, 2009. A Transfer on Death deed allows people to transfer title of their home upon death while retaining the right to live in the home during their lifetime.
Essentially, an owner of property names a beneficiary to whom title to a piece of real estate is transferred upon the death of the owner, or principal. For many, especially those with smaller estate plans, a Transfer on Death deed is an economical choice that allows the family home or other real estate to avoid the probate process which can be costly. While this automatic transfer of property upon death simplifies the transfer of title of a home, it is vital to hire an attorney to execute a Transfer on Death deed because not all interests in property are eligible to be transferred upon death.
It is important to know the owner’s interest in the property because the validity of the Transfer on Death deed depends on this information. For example, if the owner’s interest is as a tenant by the entirety and the property is held as husband and wife, conveyance by one tenant is void unless the other tenant by the entirety joins in on the conveyance. In addition, if the owner’s interest is as a life estate, the conveyance would also be inoperable and void. Another scenario is if a joint tenant with a right of survivorship executes a Transfer on Death deed. In this case the conveyance will sever the joint tenancy and the co-tenant will then become a tenant in common with the beneficiary.
For these reasons, it is important to hire an attorney to execute a Transfer on Death deed to avoid void conveyances and unintended results. For many, Transfer on Death deeds are an exciting new economical option in estate planning in Indiana and an experienced estate planning attorney at Gordon A. Etzler & Associates can help you decide if a Transfer on Death deed is a viable option for your estate plan.