Before 2013, transfers of real property in the Commonwealth of Virginia often required the executor or personal representative of the estate to go through the probate process. Now, Virginia residents have another option available to transfer property outside probate: filing a Transfer-On-Death Deed.
Section 64.2-621 et seq. of the Virginia Code, also known as the Uniform Real Property Transfer on Death Act, was enacted in 2013 to provide owners of real property another option in keeping the transfer of real property out of the probate process. To take advantage of the new law, the property owner simply executes a deed that lists a primary beneficiary (with the option of providing contingent beneficiaries as well) for the property interest, and files the executed deed with the land records office for the county in which the property is situated. Once properly recorded, the property then passes to the named beneficiary automatically by operation of law, without reference to a will or other testamentary instrument.
Use of the Transfer-On-Death Deed has the advantage over other probate-avoidance measures in that it avoids transferring or dividing the interest during the owners’ lifetime (result of joint tenancy) and is subject to reversion or modification should the owner change his or her mind down the road through revoking the deed or changing the beneficiary designation.
For more information on how to take advantage of this new option for property owners, consult a local estate planning attorney.