California Nonprobate Transfers – Revocable Transfer On Death Deeds – New Deed Form Under California Law

Another tool in the avoiding probate toolkit – Consider a deed that transfers property after death

Alameda County’s Clerk – Recorder’s Office
Existing law provided that a person could pass real property to a beneficiary at death by various methods including by will, intestate succession, trust, and titling the property in joint tenancy, among others.

Beginning this year, Californians who wish to take legal steps to avoid probate of real property might want to consider the revocable Transfer on Death deed (TOD), also known as a beneficiary deed.  As of January 1, 2016, a property owner may record this type of document to name beneficiaries who will receive any interest that owner has in real property after the owner’s death – without the need for probate.

One method, frequently used, was to add names of family members and others to a property’s title as joint tenants.  Doing so avoided having to probate the property but this transaction also gave ownership rights to the new joint tenants – making it available for partial sale, refinancing, or, even allowing creditors to place a lien on the property.  The new TOD deed also avoids issues involving possible additional taxation – gift or property reassessment.  A TOD deed can be revoked if the owner chooses to do so during his or her lifetime.

As with any deed, all legally required rules must be properly followed.  The documents will need to be notarized and recorded with the county recorder to become a part of the public land records.  There are other issues to consider involving the use of a TOD for any property owner.  A document which discusses some common questions has been published by the Sacramento (CA) Public Law Library.  A copy can be read here –  FAQ_TOD_SPLL


Below are samples with basic instructions for the documents involved in a Transfer on Death deed transaction:

For legislative background information, here is a copy of the chaptered version of the bill passed last September – 20150AB139_93-2

For more information see –


The Alameda County Law Library provides access to legal information sources to allow the public to conduct legal research. The staff of the Alameda County Law Library are not practicing attorneys.  If you are seeking advice on California law, be sure to consult with a lawyer licensed by the State Bar of California.


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