Understanding the Indiana Transfer on Death (Ladybird) Deed

Indiana outlines the rules for its transfer on death deed in IC 32-17-14 — the “Transfer on Death Property Act.” The act, which became effective on July 1, 2009, gives owners/grantors of real estate in Indiana 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 does not take effect until the owner’s death, he/she may change or remove, at will, the primary beneficiary, contingent beneficiary, or how multiple beneficiaries will take ownership (joint tenants with rights of survivorship, tenants in common, etc.). IC 32-17-14-16 contains the process for changing or revoking beneficiaries. Because of the potential for change, there is no obligation for the beneficiary/grantee to provide consideration (money or something else of value).

According to IC 32-17-14-11, an Indiana transfer on death deed transfers the interest to the beneficiary only 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.

Indiana’s transfer on death statute does not include a specific form, but instead describes the wording for a beneficiary designation. As a result, the conveyance may be included in either a warranty deed or a quitclaim deed with equal validity.

In general, this is a useful, 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 transfer on death deed may have on taxes, as well as eligibility for local, state, and federal benefits.

Revoking an Indiana Transfer on Death Deed

According to IC 32-17-14-16, there are two primary ways to revoke a transfer on death deed in Indiana:

If the real estate owner (grantor) decides to change the beneficiary or modify the way in which beneficiaries will hold title to the property when the owner dies, he/she simply completes and records a new transfer on death deed with the updated information.

If the land owner wishes to completely cancel a previously recorded transfer on death deed, a revocation may be a better idea. A properly executed revocation of transfer on death deed allows the owner to formally revoke the future conveyance and enter that change in the public record.

Related Indiana Transfer on Death Deed Forms: