Transfer-On-Death Deed could
help avoid going through probate
Q: I understand Oklahoma's Transfer-On-Death Deed statutes were recently changed. What are some of the changes?
A: Probably the most significant change has to do with how property is transferred after the death of the owner. A Transfer-On-Death Deed allows a property owner to pass on a house or other real property without going through probate. Beginning in November, a person who has been left property through a TOD deed (called the “Grantee Beneficiary”) must file an affidavit and copy of a death certificate within nine months of the owner's death.
Q: What will happen if the Grantee Beneficiary doesn't file the affidavit?
A: If no affidavit is filed, the property will go back to the deceased owner's estate and may have to go through probate. Since a TOD deed is designed to avoid probate, failing to file the affidavit defeats the purpose of the deed and will likely lead to unnecessary legal costs. It may also result in the Grantee Beneficiary not inheriting the property.
Q: How can a Grantee Beneficiary file an affidavit?
A: An affidavit is a legal document that is sworn to by the person signing it and notarized. The affidavit should verify that the owner passed away and have a death certificate attached. It should also state whether or not the deceased owner and the person signing the affidavit were married and contain a legal description of the property. The affidavit and death certificate must be filed in the county clerk's office in the county where the property is located.
Q: Is this something a person can do without an attorney?
A: A Grantee-Beneficiary can prepare and file the affidavit without an attorney, but it may be risky. Because real property law can be complicated, it is generally a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable attorney about matters involving real estate.
PAULA BURKES Business Writer