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I want to pass on my house or land without probate.

Transfer on Death Deeds

Use this guide to create a Transfer on Death Deed that names who will inherit your property after you die.
Overview

Guide Overview

Warning: The information and forms in this guide are not a substitute for the advice and help of a lawyer.

This guide is designed to give you information about how to transfer property by using a Transfer on Death Deed. 

A transfer on death deed is a simple, inexpensive way for a homeowner to transfer a home or real estate to someone else upon their death. A transfer on death deed does not affect the owner’s rights during their lifetime, so the owner can still sell the property, use it as collateral, get property tax exemptions, etc. The beneficiary has no rights until after the owner dies. The owner can also change the beneficiary or cancel the transfer on death deed entirely. 

The Toolkit contains forms and instructions to: 

  • Create and file a transfer on death deed, 

  • Cancel a transfer on death deed, and 

  • File an affidavit of death, which allows the beneficiary to obtain the property after the owner dies. 

Research Tips

Common questions about Transfer on Death Deeds

It is important to learn about Transfer on Death Deeds so you know how to use one. The Transfer on Death Deeds article will address questions such as:

  • What is a Transfer on Death Deed?
  • Does a Transfer on Death Deed affect my rights while I'm alive?
  • What if I own property with someone else?
  • Does a Transfer on Death Deed shield the property from creditors?
  • Many more...

Go to Transfer on Death Deeds

Oftentimes, people automatically go to their tax records when asked to obtain a legal description of their property. A legal property description should ALWAYS be obtained from an existing deed, and NOT tax records as these are oftentimes incomplete or inaccurate and can cause an otherwise properly filled out Deed to become null and void.  

Many people mistakenly believe that just because you are married in Texas and you own property together, that the surviving spouse automatically inherits the entire property. This is not the case. If you have a will, it will have to be probated in court to transfer the title. An alternative option is a Transfer on Death Dead to transfer the property to your spouse. 

It can be a mistake to put off filing a Transfer on Death Dead, especially if you are in poor health. Once a person has died or is deemed incompetent, a Transfer on Death Dead is no longer an option. A power of attorney cannot be used to execute a Transfer on Death Dead for another person. It is beneficial for Texas landowners to have a Transfer on Death Deed drafted and filed as soon as possible. 

The Texas Transfer on Death Deed Toolkit is primarily for people with very limited assets and not for those with more complex estate issues. However, anyone can use the Toolkit forms to transfer their car, home, or money in a bank account, even if they also need a will to transfer additional assets, such as jewelry or stocks. Individuals with more assets should consult a lawyer to ensure their wishes are followed.  

 

The Toolkit contains several forms to be completed by an asset owner prior to death, as well as one form to be completed by the beneficiary after the owner’s death. The forms and information included in the Toolkit are: 

  • Transfer on Death Deed and Affidavit of Death, which transfer title to a home 

  • Transfer on Death Deed Cancellation, in case you change your mind about transferring title to your home 

  • Beneficiary Designation for a Motor Vehicle and Application for Texas Title and/or Registration forms to transfer title of a vehicle 

  • Instructions on how to obtain a payable-on-death account from your bank 

Preparing these forms prior to a crisis can save time, money, and stress for those who are grieving.  

If you change your mind about who you want your property to go to, you can either make a new Transfer on Death Deed or use this Cancellation Form to cancel the transfer on death deed. 

Important: Tearing up or destroying your copy or the beneficiary’s copy of the transfer on death deed will not cancel the deed. You must file a cancellation with the county clerk where the property is located before your death.  

Most people think that they can simply give the car keys to the person they want to have the car when they die. Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy. The car title must be legally transferred to show that person now owns the car. 

Until recently, the only way to legally transfer title to a car after the owner died was to go through probate court, which often costs more than the car is worth. 

Now, car owners can complete the two Texas Department of Motor Vehicles forms in this kit before they die to choose who they want the car to go to.  

Go to How to Transfer a Motor Vehicle After Death to learn how to pass a car on to a person you choose.  

A payable on death bank account allows an account holder to name a beneficiary who will get the money in the account upon the owner’s death. 

If you have a payable on death bank account, all the money in your account will go directly to the people you choose to get it—without the expense and inconvenience to your family and friends of going through probate court. 

If you don’t have a payable on death bank account, no one can access the money in your account when you die to pay your bills, funeral costs, or other necessities. Any money in your account becomes part of your estate and a probate court judge will decide who can access the money. Going to probate court can take a lot of time and can be expensive for your family and friends (court costs, a lawyer, etc.). 

Read Payable on Death Bank Accounts to learn how to get a payable on death bank account.  

Instructions & Forms

Warning: The information and forms in this guide are not a substitute for the advice and help of a lawyer.

This checklist gives brief instructions on steps to take to prepare a Transfer on Death Deed. 

Checklist Steps

Obtain a copy of your existing deed from the county clerk’s office in the county where the property is located.

Decide on your primary and alternative beneficiaries.

  • The primary beneficiary is the person or persons (you can list more than one) who you want the property to pass to. An alternate beneficiary (you can list more than one) can be named in case the primary beneficiary does not survive you. Listing an alternate beneficiary is recommended, but not required.

Prepare your transfer on death deed. The Transfer on Death Deed forms are all available online

Sign the transfer on death deed in front of a notary.

  • One common place to find a notary is your local bank.
  • You must present identification such as a driver’s license or passport in person in order for a notary to complete the notarization.

File the deed at the county clerk’s office. 

  • File deed in the county clerk’s office where the property is located.
  • The clerk will charge a fee. Typical filing fees are $24 to $26 for the first page and $4 for each page thereafter.

Forms Required

Articles in this guide