Franklin County Probate Judge Robert G. Montgomery has started a “Good Deeds Program” to save families legal costs in the future. By providing simple tips for people buying or holding real estate, the Program provides free estate planning tools to help avoid probate court.
First, couples may want to consider a real estate survivorship deed for couples. Unless your property is in a trust or an LLC, the deed must include language to the effect of “FOR THEIR JOINT LIVES, REMAINDER TO THE SURVIVOR OF THEM.” If an individual landowner dies, real property would be considered a “probate asset,” costing you more time and money by having to go through the probate court process merely to transfer ownership of the property into the surviving partner’s name.
Therefore, in most cases, couples buying a house may want a survivorship deed executed at the time of purchase. If you are recently married and are in the process of buying your first house, you may want to instruct the preparer of your deed to include the necessary survivorship language in your deed.
Second, there is a way for single individuals and widows or widowers to transfer property, while saving time and money – all without having to go through the probate process. A Transfer on Death (T.O.D.) Affidavit states the individual’s name, legally identifies the property, and names the beneficiary or beneficiaries of the property upon death of the current owner. Once executed, if the property is located in Franklin County, the property owner should file the T.O.D. affidavit with the Franklin County Recorder’s Office.
“The costs to prepare and file a survivorship deed or a T.O.D. affidavit are minimal compared to the costs to probate property after the death of a property owner. Preparation now will save you time and money later,” Judge Montgomery said.
Judge Montgomery strongly recommends individuals prepare a will. Individuals can contact the Columbus Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service at 614-221-0754 to begin this process. For information on the Probate Court’s “Good Deeds Program,” visit the Probate Court website at https://probate.franklincountyohio.gov.
Click here to view the Good Deeds Program brochure.