In Washington recently now exists a new form of transferring real property. This form is called the “Transfer on Death Deed” (also known as a beneficiary deed).
RCW 64.809 explains what Transfer on Death Deed is and how it works.
With this Transfer on Death Deed, a property owner can convert an otherwise-probate asset into an asset that will pass outside of probate. As with joint tenancy, the administrator should carefully review the deed to ensure that it is a proper beneficiary deed. This deed must include the following:
- It must include all essential elements and formalities of a properly recordable inter vivos deed
- It must state that the transfer to the designated beneficiary is to occur at the transferor's death; and
- It must be recoded before the transferor's death in the public records in the office of the auditor of the county where the property is located.
To be effective there is no need even tell the beneficiary of Deed of its existence during the transferor's life, which means a person can create, sign and recorded a Transfer on Death Deed and not tell the beneficiary of the Deed about its existence.
After the death of the owner, the beneficiary does not prepare a new deed to show his or her new ownership to the property. Instead, the beneficiary records the death certificate of the owner with the county Recorder's Office, using the approved coversheet that identifies the property. The new owner will also need to file a real estate excise tax affidavit, although no excise is due unless the owner prepared the deed to satisfy a contractual obligation to the beneficiary, which is rare.
It is important to know that the Transfer on Death Deed can be revoked any time during the transferor's life as long as the procedure outlined in the RCW 64.80.080 is followed.
If the Transfer on Death Deed has NOT been recorded yet, the transferor can revoke it by:
- signing a different Transfer on Death Deed that is inconsistent with the Transfer on Death Deed or expressly revokes it; or
- signing an instrument or revocation that expressly revokes the Transfer on Death Deed; or
- singing an inter vivos deed that expressly revokes the Transfer on Death Deed.
That document that is used to revoke a Transfer on Death Deed must be acknowledged by the transferor and recorded before the transferor's death in the public records.
After a Transfer on Death Deed has been recorded, it may not be revoked by a revocatory act on the deed.