Transfer on Death for homes

It's important to make plans for what will happen to your home after you die. Learn how to use Transfer on Death to transfer your home without a will and avoid probate court.

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Understanding the Basics

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You don't have to have a will to transfer your home after you die. A Transfer on Death (TOD) is a legal document that can transfer your home without a will. This means that your home will not have to go through the probate court. Going through the probate court can cost your loved ones time and money after you are gone. You can transfer your home or car outside of probate court, if you set up the right TODs.

If you are married and/or own a home with another person, you should speak with a lawyer. There are different ways to transfer a home with multiple owners. A lawyer can help you understand all of your options and come up with a plan that's right for you.

Ohio Legal Help's TOD form is for owners who are not married and own the property alone.

How to create a Transfer on Death for your home

  • Choose your recipients. You can choose one or more people to become owner of any home or land that you own. Be thoughtful. If you choose more than one person, it's important to understand that they will need to agree on everything about the property after you're gone. For example, one cannot sell it without the other's permission. If the recipients don't agree, it can cause more legal trouble and expense. 
  • Find a copy of your deed. The deed to your home has important information you need to include on your TOD form. This information includes the legal description, including the parcel ID number, and prior recording information. If you don’t have the original deed or a copy, you can get a copy from the County Recorder’s office. Open Local Government and Community Resources to find your County Recorder's office. 
  • Complete the TOD for real estate form. You will need to include
    • The exact legal description from on your deed, including your parcel ID number. If your parcel ID number is not included on your deed, you can find it on your real estate tax bill. You can also get it from the County Auditor’s office.
    • The County Recorder’s reference number, or volume and deed book number, stamped on your deed. 
    • If possible, have a lawyer review the form. It's important to complete the form properly to make sure that your property transfers the way you want it to. A lawyer can help make sure everything is in order. Open Legal Help and Lawyers to see legal resources in your area. 
  • Take the form to a notaryYou need to sign the form in front of a notary, and have it stamped. Make several copies of the stamped form for your records.
  • Submit the form at your County Recorder's Office. Open Local Government and Community Resources to find your County Recorder's office. 

Important information about Medicaid Estate Recovery

If you receive Medicaid benefits before you die, your real estate could fall under the State of Ohio’s Medicaid Estate Recovery Program. That means that the State will have a claim on a part of the property, equal to the value of benefits you received. The State’s claim may take priority over your beneficiary’s claim to the property.

Your homestead exemption may not transfer

If you get the homestead exemption to reduce your property taxes:

  • It won’t necessarily transfer to the new owner. The homestead exemption is given to the person who applies and qualifies for it. It doesn't automatically transfer to the new owner when you die.
  • The new owner may qualify. Factors like their age, disability and income will determine if they qualify for the homestead exemption.
  • Apply with the county auditor. The new owner should contact the county auditor’s office to find out if they can get the exemption too. They may need to apply for it. 

Payable on Death for bank accounts

You can also transfer the money in your bank accounts without going through probate. You can add a "Payable on Death" (POD) beneficiary to any bank account for free. This person will be able to access the money in your account when you die. Call or visit your local bank branch to find out how to name a POD beneficiary.

Tell your loved ones your plans

Communication is important when it comes to your financial plans. Make sure that your loved ones know your plans. It can feel uncomfortable to talk about money, but it will make things easier when you're gone. It's also a good idea to keep your important documents together in a safe place—that your loved ones can find.

Local Government and Community Resources

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