Oregon Transfer-on-Death Deeds – A New Club for your Estate Planning Bag?

I remember when my Dad bought his first 7-Wood.  He was always looking for new and different clubs to add to his golf game.  His golf buddies tried it out and pretty well unanimously decided it was useless.  My Dad, however, consulted with the club pro about incorporating it into his game, and practiced and practiced with it until he knew exactly where and when on the course he could pull it out of the bag and rely on the result.  It soon became his favorite club.  I haven’t golfed with my Dad in a long time now, so I don’t know if he’s still using it but there was a time when that funky 7-Wood was exactly what his game needed.

Just like that 7-Wood didn’t work for everyone, there is a new tool to be considered when drawing up your estate plan that may or may not meet your needs – Transfer-on-Death Deeds.  And, just as my Dad discussed the new club with a professional, the only way to determine if you should be using Transfer-on-Death Deeds is to consult with a competent Oregon estate planning attorney.

Oregon Senate Bill 815

The Oregon legislature passed Senate Bill 815, also known as the Uniform Real Property Transfer on Death Act, signed into law by Governor Kitzhaber on 2 June 2011, giving effect to the changes as of 1 January 2012.

Transfer-on-Death Deeds?

The recent change in the law allows a person to record inter vivos (during life) a transfer of real property to a designated beneficiary (or beneficiaries) that only becomes effective upon the grantor’s death.  Like all estate planning tools, these deeds have possible benefits and concerns associated with them, some (not all) of which are listed below.  You should consult with a competent Oregon estate planning attorney to determine if you should be using Transfer-on-Death Deeds in your estate plan.

Possible Benefits

  • If done properly, can avoid probate proceedings, at least as to the property subject to the deed.  For many people, avoiding the cost and time associated with probate is one of the chief goals of their estate plan.
  • Can be a good way to direct real property into a testamentary trust while still maintaining title in your name during your lifetime.
  • Can avoid the risks associated with granting joint ownership to your intended beneficiary during your lifetime.  Among these risks are the joint-owner’s ability to burden or transfer his or her interest in the property without the need for your consent.

Possible Concerns

  • Transfer-on-Death Deeds are not subject to the same formal requirements of wills or trusts, leaving a potential for fraud or other financial elder abuse.
  • Property transferred by such a deed is potentially subject to claims by the grantor’s creditors for eighteen months, rather than the four months provided by probate proceedings.
  • In the case of joint grantors with right of survivorship between them, a surviving grantor would have the authority to revoke the deed, even where this would clearly be inconsistent with the deceased grantor’s wishes regarding his or her interest in the property.

As with any estate planning tool, the only way to determine if you should throw a Transfer on Death Deed 7-Wood into your estate planning golf bag is to discuss your needs and options with a competent Oregon estate planning attorney.

For informational purposes only and not to be relied upon as legal advice.

by Brook D. Wood

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