What is the Difference Between an Ohio Survivorship Deed and a Transfer on Death Designation Affidavit?

A survivorship deed conveys title rights to property upon execution and recording. As such, it is appropriate for a situation where the owners are married or are otherwise willing to be connected by concurrent (joint) ownership. If one of the co-owners dies, his or her share of the real property passes immediately to the surviving owners, but the transfer must be formalized by submitting an affidavit as described in O. R. C.5302.17.

Real property owners may execute a survivorship deed at any point. They may also serve as both grantor and grantee. For example, B and C get married. B purchased a house several years earlier and wishes to add C to the deed. B executes a survivorship deed, casting herself as grantor and herself and C as grantees.

Exercise caution when choosing shared ownership of real estate. For example, one co-owner’s judgments and obligations can impact the assets of the others. The specific details of survivorship tenancy in Ohio are set forth in O. R. C. 5302.20.

A transfer on death designation affidavit (Ladybird deed), on the other hand, offers a potential future interest in the property. The grantor/owner retains complete control and full ownership of the real property, and may rent, mortgage, modify or sell it without penalty. In addition, the beneficiary has no rights to or guarantee of receiving the property—the grantor may change the recipient at will. The conveyance is incomplete until the owner dies and the beneficiary executes and records an affidavit as directed in O. R. C. 5302.222.

The Ohio transfer on death designation affidavit found in O. R. C. 5302.22 replaces the earlier transfer on death deed. This instrument must be executed and recorded while the owner is still alive. There is no obligation, however, to inform the intended beneficiary; since the owner is free to change the terms at will with a revised affidavit, the final recipient might be another individual or entity.

Before creating a survivorship deed or assigning beneficiaries under a transfer on death designation affidavit, carefully consider the risks and benefits associated with sharing what is generally a significant asset with one or more other people. Please contact an attorney for complex situations or with specific questions.