Beneficiary deeds are a fairly new creation, under California law. A beneficiary transfer deed allows you to file something with the County Recorder’s Office that says, in effect, “After my death, I want my property to pass to my stated beneficiary.” It’s kind of like a beneficiary designation on a life insurance policy or a paid-on-death account that you can get at a bank or financial institution.
Now, there has not yet, in my estimation, been a widespread use of beneficiary deeds. But they are available, and you can use them. A beneficiary deed would allow you to be able to name a beneficiary of your real property.
By naming a beneficiary, the transfer of your real property can happen while avoiding probate – which is generally a good thing – and you also don’t necessarily need to use a trust.
However, in my opinion, having seen many estates that have gone wrong, I think it’s much better to use a trust and to use a lawyer to create a proper estate plan that includes a trust. But, for those people who aren’t interested in doing that, or if you’d simply like to name a beneficiary of your real property, California now allows that with the beneficiary transfer deed.