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Beneficiary Deeds

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.