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.

Arizona beneficiary deeds allow owners to retain absolute control over their real estate, with the freedom to use, modify, or sell the land at will. The owner may also change the beneficiary or revoke the deed without any obligation to notify the beneficiary because the transfer of the remaining property rights is not finalized until the recipient records the appropriate documentation.

Note that beneficiary deeds and any related changes are only valid when executed by the owner or the owner’s legal representative and recorded, DURING THE OWNER’S LIFE, with the recorder of deeds in the county in which the real property is situated.

In general, this is a simple and effective estate planning tool for those who wish to convey real property rights with no need for probate. Even so, carefully consider the impact that a beneficiary deed may have on taxes, as well as eligibility for local, state, and federal benefits.

Revocation of Beneficiary Deed

Arizona’s statutes provide the rules for managing beneficiary deeds. One aspect of that management is the ability to revoke the deed.

Unlike many other forms of conveying title, transfers by correctly executed and recorded beneficiary deeds are incomplete until the owner’s death. In addition, the beneficiary pays no consideration to the owner for the potential future interest. As a result, the named beneficiary has no material interest in the real estate. Therefore, if the owner wishes to cancel the transfer, he or she may do so without an obligation to notify or compensate the former recipient. By executing and recording the revocation of a beneficiary deed according to statute, the grantor/owner formally cancels the bequest to the beneficiary designated in the previously recorded deed.

Note that, just as with the beneficiary deed, the revocation must be recorded during the owner’s lifetime to take effect; any deeds or revocations recorded after the owner’s death are void.

Affidavit of Death

To redeem the land conveyed under an Arizona beneficiary deed, the named beneficiary must submit specific documentation to the recorder for the county where the deed was originally recorded. In general, this includes an official copy of the owner’s death certificate and a copy of the recorded beneficiary deed. When an affidavit of death accompanies these documents, the beneficiary formalizes the information within the context of a sworn statement.

Related Arizona Beneficiary Deed Forms: