California Transfer on Death Affidavit
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Transfer on Death Affidavit for Real Estate Located in California
Using an Affidavit of Death to Claim Real Estate from a California Transfer on Death Deed
Transfer on death deeds allow individual landowners to transfer their real estate when they die, without a will or the need for probate distribution. The transferor simply executes a TODD form, then records it during the course of his/her natural life, and within 60 days of the signing date (5626(a)). Unlike grant deeds or quitclaim deeds, the owner continues to hold title to the property when a transfer on death deed is recorded (5650). As such, TODDs are exempt from transfer taxes and the Preliminary Change of Ownership Report (PCOR).
What happens, then, when the owner dies? Section 5680 defines the process for switching the title over to the beneficiary. The beneficiary may establish the fact of the transferor's death under the procedure provided in California Probate Code Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 210) of Part 4 of Division 2. The first step is obtaining a certified copy of the death certificate. Then research the recording information from the transfer on death deed identifying the beneficiary. Complete an affidavit of death and sign it in front of a notary. Finally, file the affidavit, along with the copy of the death certificate, in the recording office for the county where the property is situated. Note that this act transfers title to the beneficiary, so it also requires the PCOR and any associated taxes and fees.
Beneficiaries take title to the property under the rules set out at section 5652. Be aware that any associated debts, obligations, or agreements in place when the owner died follow the real estate to the beneficiaries. In addition, the title transfers without warranty, so the beneficiaries might find themselves liable for future claims against the property. For these reasons, among others, some beneficiaries might wish to disclaim the gift (5652(a)(1)).
In general, transferring title to the beneficiary of a transfer on death deed is a simple process. Even so, complications may arise. Contact an attorney for complex situations or with any questions.
(California Transfer on Death Affidavit Package includes form, guidelines, and completed example)