Beneficiary deeds

Beneficiary deeds are very popular in Arizona. A property owner who signs such a deed can avoid probate and simplify administration of their estate. It’s pretty easy to create and sign a beneficiary deed — many people do it without involving a lawyer. We want to shed a little light on how the process works. We discuss who should consider taking such a step — and who should not.

To be clear, we discuss only Arizona law. Other states may have a similar kind of document available. In fact, one source reports that something similar is available in 29 states (and the District of Columbia). We aren’t vouching for the accuracy of that list, and we don’t know how it works in those states. Your experience in another state could be very different. Check with a local estate planning attorney.

But in Arizona, beneficiary deeds have been around for two decades. In fact, we reported about the then-new idea back in 2001. There have been some changes in the law since then, but the idea remains the same.

The basic premise almost sounds too good to be true. You sign and record the document. Maybe the only cost is a $30 recording fee. When you die, the person listed on the document records a copy of your death certificate — and they own the property.

But, as we discuss in this podcast episode, the beneficiary deed is not for everyone. People with complicated personal circumstances, particular intentions for their property, or large families might not be good candidates for a beneficiary deed.

Here’s the thing: the difficult part is not preparing beneficiary deeds. It’s figuring out whether that’s the right approach. That’s when a qualified estate planning attorney should be involved. Come see us first if you are an Arizona property owner.

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