Interesting you should ask.
The Golden State just passed a law allowing beneficiary deeds to transfer real estate ... without probate.
This was the subject of an article in the San Diego Times-Union titled "State ushers in refreshingly modest law."
According to the article, the law passed unanimously in both the Assembly and the Senate. It creates "a new, non-probate method for conveying real property upon death through a revocable transfer upon death deed."
Translation: a beneficiary deed is a simple alternative for people to transfer their home (or one-to-four-unit investment properties) upon their death without having to pay for a living trust or having it all sorted out in probate court.
Interestingly, California already provided for a similar approach to transferring all kinds of assets via "pay upon death" and "transfer on death," but never for real estate. This is quite a breakthrough.
So, is the the new California beneficiary deed complicated?
No, it is a one-page form that requires only the parcel number, the name of the owner (grantor), and the people who inherit the property and their relationship to the owner.
Oh, the form must be notarized and contain a clause dealing with potential coercion.
That is all there is to it.
The new law is expected to be a big benefit to senior citizens whose estates consist primarily (or even exclusively) of their family homes.
Although creating a living trust has many advantages in addition to avoiding probate, like protecting and preserving the inheritance for your loved ones, a living trust may be too much "legal medicine" for many simple estates.
In all cases you certainly want to avoid adding your adult children as current joint owners of your assets!
The moment you add them as joint owners such assets will be subject to any divorces, lawsuits and bankruptcies of those children.
For those of you who are residents of Kansas or Missouri, both states have provided for beneficiary deeds for some time now.
Contact an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss whether the beneficiary deed approach is appropriate for your unique circumstances.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: San Diego Times-Union (January 18, 2016) "State ushers in refreshingly modest law"