As of January 2013, Nebraska introduced a new tool in estate planning — the transfer on death deed, or TOD deed. This blog post gives an overview of the TOD deed but you are encouraged to speak with your attorney or contact us if you have further questions about TOD deeds or estate planning generally.
What is a TOD deed? It is a deed filed with the Register of Deeds in the appropriate county that allows real property (e.g. land) to transfer upon the owner’s death to the beneficiary designed on the TOD deed. A TOD deed does not require probate because it is considered a non-probate transfer, just like bank accounts or life insurance policies with beneficiary designations.
What are the requirements? The TOD deed is only for real property, such as land or residences. The property must be in the State of Nebraska. The person transferring the property must be an individual acting only as an individual. The designated beneficiary may be an individual, corporation, estate, trustee of a trust, partnership, limited liability company, association, joint venture, public corporation, a government or governmental subdivision, agency, or any other legal or commercial entity.
The TOD deed must be signed by the transferor and two disinterested witnesses. At the same time, a Notary Public must be present to witness all three persons and their signatures on the TOD deed. The transferor (person make the transfer) must have the same capacity as the capacity required to make a will.
When is a TOD deed filed? Per Nebraska law, the TOD deed must be filed within thirty days at the appropriate county office where the real estate is located. If the TOD is not filed within 30 days of its execution, it is invalid. Additionally, the TOD deed must be filed prior to the death of the transferor.
What if I change my mind? The TOD deed may be revoked. Because the TOD deed does not transfer real property until the death of the transferor, the TOD deed may be revoked. The transferor must filed a revocation of the TOD deed in the same appropriate county office within 30 days of executing the revocation. A divorce automatically revokes a TOD deed if the now-divorced spouses are a transferor and beneficiary respectively.
In short, the TOD deed is a tool in the estate planning toolbox. Each specific estate plan requires different questions and considerations. Thus, feel free to attend our workshops or contact your attorney for further information about your estate planning goals.