What is a TOD deed?

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By Tricia Applegate

Using a transfer-on-death deed is a lot like using a payable-on-death (POD) designation for a bank account. You name one or more beneficiaries now, who then inherit the property at your death without the need for probate court proceedings.

To name a beneficiary, you use a special kind of deed, one that’s tailored to the law of your state. The deed looks pretty much like any other real estate deed; it names the current owner, describes the property exactly, and names the person the property will be transferred to at your death. But a TOD deed contains an additional statement, making it clear that the deed does not take effect until the current owner’s death.

The beneficiary you name to inherit the property doesn’t have any legal right to it until your death—or, if you own the property with your spouse or someone else, until the last surviving owner dies. The beneficiary doesn’t have to sign, acknowledge, or even be told about the deed.


In the deed, you can also name an contingent beneficiary who will inherit the real estate if your first choice isn’t alive at your death. If you don’t name an alternate, and your first choice doesn’t survive you, state law determines who will inherit the property – usually this requires a probate proceeding.
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Your Estate Plan Should Reduce Your Legislative Risk, Not Increase It

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By Senior Associate Attorney, Dan Vu

Too often estate planners do not consider their client’s legislative risk. In other words, they plan without consideration to the very high probability that the current rules will change. In Washington and Columbus, every new bill passed by the legislature is touted as the new permanent law of the land, but in reality it is only “permanent” until the next time they decide to change it. So if your plan does not provide the flexibility for the changing rules, you can actually be in a worse position than you would without any plan. [Read more...]

Do I Need an Estate Plan if I’m Single with No Children?

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By Jill Besl

Most people don’t give it a second thought: “Who will take care of me in my old age?”, “Who will see to my needs?”, “Who will see to it my end-of-life wishes are fulfilled?” Your children of course! Obviously that’s not the reason we have children in the first place, but knowing you’ll have a support system in your sunset years is a comforting thought. But for the growing number of people who have made the decision to remain single and/or childless, those same questions may incur a certain level of anxiety.

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If I’m Divorced, can my ex-spouse get my things when I die?

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By Chris Meyer
One question we are often asked here at Cooper, Adel & Associates is “will my ex-spouse receive anything of mine after I die?” The answer to this question is not necessarily – but it can happen. Although ex-spouses do not receive anything titled in your name (unless the divorce court decrees that they should), you can make an unintended and unfortunate mistake if the beneficiaries are not updated on all of your assets.

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