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I want to pass on my house or land without a will.


I want to pass on my house or land without a will.

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

If you need general information about a Transfer on Death Deed, please read the Articles section and look through the Frequently Asked Questions.  

If you would like to see if you qualify for free help regarding a Transfer on Death Deed, you can call Transactional Legal Assistance at 512-637-6752.

If you need other help, use Find Legal Help to look for a lawyer, free legal aid program, or self-help center in your area.

WARNING: The information and forms in this toolkit are not a substitute for the advice and help of a lawyer. It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer about your particular situation.

Frequently Asked Questions
I already have a will. Why would I want a Transfer on Death Deed?

Whether you have a will or not, your property will still go through the probate court system. A Transfer on Death Deed conveys property outside of probate, allowing for you to avoid incurring court costs. Also, it excludes real property from Medicaid estate recovery.

What is the Medicaid estate recovery program (MERP) and how does it affect the Transfer on Death Deed?

For individuals age 55 or older, states are required by the federal government to seek recovery of payments from the individual’s estate for nursing facility services, in-home care, and related hospital and drug services. A simple will goes through probate and subjects property to being taken by Medicaid estate recovery. Under current law, property passed on by a Transfer on Death Deed is exempted from Medicaid estate recovery.     

Does a Transfer on Death Deed replace a will?

The Transfer on Death Deed does not replace a will. The will may still remain an important part of your estate plan especially if you have special bequests or a large amount of personal property. A Transfer on Death Dead covers only real property, like land and improvements, and conveys property outside of probate which allows you to avoid court costs. It is best if your will and transfer on Death Deed are consistent as to who receives your home and land. If your will and Transfer on Death Deed are inconsistent, the person named in the Transfer on Death Deed, not your will, will own your property after your death. 

What is considered real property?

Real property includes land, improvements (including house), uncut timber, and mineral rights. Personal property includes things that are not attached to the land and can be easily removed. Personal property cannot be disposed of with a Transfer on Death Deed 

Can I transfer personal property without going through probate?
  • If your heirs can decide on who gets furniture, jewelry, clothing, etc. Then the courts would not have to be involved with deciding who gets possession of those items.  
  • If you have stocks or mutual funds, all of the investment houses will allow you to name a beneficiary to receive those investments without going through the courts.
  • Similarly, if you have a savings or checking account, you should make sure that it is either a joint account where a surviving heir has access to make deposits and withdrawals during your lifetime, or that it is a POD or “payable on death” account, where you designate a beneficiary who will obtain ownership of the account when you pass away outside of the court system. 


What are the requirements of a transfer on death deed?
The Transfer on Death Deed must be in writing and include the legal description of the property and the name and address of one or more beneficiaries. Also, It must state that the transfer of the Grantor’s interest to the designated beneficiary will not occur until the Grantor’s death. Finally, It must be signed, notarized and recorded in the county where the property is located
Can I name more than one beneficiary for a transfer on death deed?

Yes, the Transfer on Death Deed allows you to name more than one beneficiary, as well as alternate beneficiaries. 

Research Tips

At your local law library, look for:

  • O'Connor's Texas Estates Code Plus

  • Texas Probate System Practice Manuals

Law Libraries in Texas
TexasLawHelp Legal Research Guide