House Gift: Transferring Your Arizona or Florida Home Through a Gift Deed

Image of gift envelopes with a ribbon and a pencil. Article about real estate gift deeds specific to Arizona and Florida.

Using a gift deed, you can transfer your home to a new owner. The transfer of a gift deed occurs among friends and relatives, or between donors and charities. The giver of the gift deed, formally known as a grantor or donor, conveys the home to the recipient or donee while the donor is alive.

The special hallmark of the gift deed is its transfer of real property between people with no consideration. Only use it if no money and nothing of value is given for the home. (Careful, though: to the IRS, a house sold for a dollar is still a gift.)

Here, we shine a spotlight on the gift deed from some specific angles:

  • We’ll zoom in on two places where many of our clients and readers love to give: Arizona and Florida.
  • We’ll discuss the tax implications of your gift deed.
  • We’ll outline the alternative ways you can give your home away or transfer its inherent value to your loved ones.

So, if you’re feeling generous, read on!

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Transfers of Condominium Units in Arizona

The Arizona Condominium Act is codified at ARS 33-1201, et seq.

A condominium is a piece of real estate, portions (units) of which are reserved for separate ownership, with the remainder designated for common ownership, solely by owners of the separate units (33-1202(10)). The condominium must first be created by a declaration, which designates the individual units, and is recorded in the same manner as a deed (33-1211).

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Arizona Beneficiary Deeds and the Right of Survivorship

Arizona’s beneficiary deeds are governed by A.R.S. § 33-405.

Beneficiary deeds are estate planning instruments that allow owners of Arizona real estate to retain absolute control over their property, with the freedom to use, modify, or sell the land at will. When lawfully executed and recorded, beneficiary deeds convey a potential future “interest in real property, including any debt secured by a lien on real property, to a grantee beneficiary designated by the owner and that expressly states that the deed is effective on the death of the owner transfers the interest to the designated grantee beneficiary effective on the death of the owner,” subject to all the owner’s related obligations (§ 33-405(A)).

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How to Remove a Deceased Joint Tenant from an Arizona Real Estate Deed

The process of removing a deceased joint tenant from an Arizona deed is fairly simple.

When two or more property owners hold title as joint tenants with right of survivorship, and one of those co-owners dies, the surviving owners share the decedent’s interest in the land by function of law, and without the need for distribution through probate.

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Removing a Deceased Community Property Owner’s Name from an Arizona Real Estate Deed

Arizona law allows married couples to hold title to real estate as community property with right of survivorship (A.R.S. 33-431). With this type of ownership, the property becomes a shared marital asset. If one spouse dies, the other gains full rights to the title automatically, by function of law.

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Property Transfers using a Beneficiary Deed in Arizona

The Arizona Beneficiary Deed, governed by Arizona Revised Statutes 33-405, is a useful estate planning tool. It gives owners/grantors of Arizona real estate the ability to initiate, but not complete, the transfer process to a designated beneficiary while retaining absolute control in the property. This means the owner (grantor) may sell, rent, mortgage or otherwise use the property with no penalty for waste or obligation to the named beneficiary. In addition, because the conveyance is not completed until the owner’s death, he/she may change or remove beneficiary designations at will. Because of the potential for change, there is no obligation for the beneficiary/grantee to provide consideration (money or something else of value). A.R.S. 33-405(L) contains the form and requirements for revoking a beneficiary deed.

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Community Property with Right of Survivorship in Arizona

Like many western states, Arizona allows legally married couples to own real estate as community property, with or without rights of survivorship. The rules and definitions are set forth at Section 33-431 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. Under this form of ownership, both spouses hold undivided shares of the whole, and when one spouse dies, the survivor gains ownership of the whole property without the need for probate, and both halves receive a new tax basis equal to the fair market value as of the date of death. Otherwise, when one spouse dies, the community property is divided equally, with half going to the surviving spouse and half distributed as directed by the deceased spouse’s will. In case of divorce or annulment, the judge often determines equitable distribution of community property.

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