All About Transfer-On-Death Deeds

This article discusses the TOD deed features and limitations, and helps to explain why—more than three years after passing of the new law—the TOD deed has not been widely adopted as a planning tool.


In June of 2014, our state adopted a new law allowing for transfer-on-death (“TOD”) deeds, known as the “Washington Uniform Real Property Transfer On Death Act” or “Act”. The Act was intended to simplify your estate planning by allowing you to transfer real property to your family members or beneficiaries at your death outside of probate. This is similar to pay-on-death designations on a bank or investment account.

Previously, almost all real property transfers on death required a probate proceeding. This new law now provides a simpler and (potentially) more cost effective alternative for transferring your real estate at your death without the time or costs of probate.

The TOD deed, however, has its limitations and should be carefully considered in the context of your overall estate plan. It should not be used simply to avoid probate. There are very few circumstances where the benefits of saving administration costs outweigh the benefits of having a will with more defined planning provisions.