Most married couples own their home as survivorship marital property. At the first death, probate of the home is avoided because title automatically vests in the surviving spouse.
To document that the surviving spouse is the owner of the property, Form HT-110 must be recorded with the local Register of Deeds.
A problem arises when the home is owned by the surviving spouse, now a single individual. Unless action is taken during the surviving spouse’s lifetime, the home will be subject to probate at his or her death.
Probate can be avoided by transferring the home to a revocable trust, or by executing a Transfer on Death Deed and recording it with the Register of Deeds.
Executing and recording a Transfer on Death Deed is similar to placing a beneficiary designation on the home. At death, title automatically vests without probate in the beneficiary named in the document.
Married couples can execute and record a Transfer on Death Deed while both spouses are living. At the first death, title to the home will automatically vest in the surviving spouse. At the second death, title will automatically vest in the designated beneficiary.
Keep in mind, however, that Form HT-110 must still be filed with the Register of Deeds after the first death. It must also be filed with the Register of Deeds after the second death.
A Transfer on Death Deed is an effective way to avoid probate for a home. Consider whether it might be appropriate for you. If so, FOS can help.