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
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.
Prior to the law’s adoption, West Virginia law
did not contain a