I’ll start with a blanket statement: everybody who owns real estate in either Kansas or Missouri should have a beneficiary deed on file for that real estate, assuming it is not already placed in a trust. But, time and again, I see folks who pass away without having filed that simple, cheap and easy form with the county. A simple beneficiary deed can mean the difference between a quick and easy transition of your property to your heirs versus a long, drawn-out, expensive probate procedure.
A beneficiary deed is also known as a “transfer on death” deed. It allows your real estate to transfer automatically upon your death to whoever you name in that deed. You still own the property when you file a beneficiary deed on your real estate. You retain full control over it. You can mortgage the property, you can sell the property, you can do whatever you want with it – the beneficiary does not restrict your ownership of the property at all. If you get angry with the person you’ve named in the beneficiary deed to get your property, no problem – you can revoke that deed at any time you’d like. You can change the deed to add additional beneficiaries or change the percentage of property each beneficiary receives.
You can give one person a larger ownership stake in the property than a co-beneficiary. You can make it so that if one beneficiary passes away, that person’s ownership flows to either the co-owner, or to that person’s heirs. They are very flexible. And, even better, they’re cheap! We charge $150 to draft a beneficiary deed. The recording fees with the county range from $21 to $38, depending on your state and whether the deed is one page or two pages. If you want us to handle the recording of the deed for you, we’re happy to do that for another $100. These deeds can often be prepared without even you visiting our offices – I’ve done a number of them over the phone.
The bottom line is that if you don’t have a beneficiary deed on your house now, there’s little good reason not to take a few minutes to get it done.