WV Farm Bureau Magazine November 2014 - Page 17

standardized method for the straightforward nonprobate transfer of real property. During the owner’s lifetime, the owner may name a beneficiary of a TOD deed, although the beneficiary has no immediate interest in the property and the owner retains full power to transfer or encumber the property or to revoke the deed. On the owner’s death, the property passes to the beneficiary, much like the survivorship feature of joint tenancy and the personal property mentioned above. The TOD deed presents several advantages over joint tenancy. Because the TOD deed does not convey an immediate interest to the beneficiary, the property is not subject to partition or to the beneficiary’s creditors. The deed remains revocable, enabling the owner to make a different disposition of the property. It does not trigger an acceleration clause in a mortgage or a property tax reassessment during the transferor’s life. In addition, it does not create adverse Medicaid consequences for either the owner or the beneficiary. The TOD deed also may be preferable to an inter vivos trust (living trust) in many circumstances. If the decedent’s only significant asset is the family home, for example, the TOD deed provides a simple, inexpensive, understandable means for the decedent to pass the property directly to heirs without probate. Summary: Prior to the law’s adoption, West Virginia law did not contain a