TOD designations can be used to avoid probate.New York State offers a number of methods for assets to avoid probate, and named beneficiary accounts are one of the most simple and effective ways. Just as bank accounts and retirement accounts can be passed on using payable on death (POD) transfers, other cash convertible assets can be passed to beneficiaries using transfer on death (TOD) deeds. 

Similar to a POD, a TOD allows a named beneficiary to claim the account without undergoing probate review. In effect, the assets left to a TOD beneficiary are transferred at the moment of the account holder’s death.

New York Restrictions for Transfer on Death Designations 

Currently, New York only allows for TOD registration of securities assets. Once a beneficiary is named and the account is registered in TOD form, the named beneficiary inherits the stocks, bonds, or brokerage accounts without probate.

New York TOD deeds cannot be used to transfer other assets, including:

  • Homes shared by spouses. Instead of TOD deeds, married couples can seamlessly transfer real estate using Tenancy by the Entirety. This allows a legally married surviving spouse to inherit co-owned real estate without probate.
  • Shared real estate. New York prohibits TOD designation for any real estate that transfers ownership of the property to a third party who is not named on the title. If the owner lives alone but wishes to pass the property to another party without probate, Joint Tenancy may be a better solution. This way, real estate can be transferred to the surviving owner regardless of the relationship between owners. Unless it is between a husband and wife, or the original purchasers of the real property, the best way to pass on real estate to your heirs while avoiding probate is through a living trust.
  • Vehicles. The registration for a vehicle cannot be done with a TOD deed. In order to pass on a vehicle, it will need to be included in probate proceedings or be part of the deceased’s living trust.

Free guide to understanding the probate process in New York

If you need help administering an estate in New York, Landskind & Ricaforte Law Group can answer your questions and make the probate process as smooth as possible. Contact us today through our online form to learn how we can help.

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