Can Real Estate Be Transferred to a Pay on Death Account – POD?

Can Real Estate Be Transferred to a Pay on Death Account – POD?

Can real estate be transferred in a POD?


Generally speaking, POD stands for "pay on death". I believe it is usually reserved for bank and brokerage accounts. A "pay on death" account is a type of account intended to avoid probate so that in the event of the demise of the primary account holder, the assets would automatically be transferred, without the need for probate (which incidently is explained elsewhere in some of the Q & A's on the site) to the designated beneficiary. Title to real estate is very much a "local" matter. The laws, rules, conventions, and terminology differ dramatically from state to state, and you will have to address this question with a real estate attorney in your state. If your objective is to avoid probate, there are other approaches which can be used under different names, but which have a similar effect. For example, the house could be owned jointly as "John Doe and Sam Smith, joint tenants with right of survivorship". On John's death, Sam would become the owner of the property automatically. The problem is what rights have been given to Sam while John remains alive. Also, you must take a look at what the overall objectives are, and the tax, legal, and other consequences of the transaction. Are you exposing the real estate asset to claims by Sam's creditors? What if John changes his mind? If avoiding probate is the only goal, then there are better ways of achieving that goal. One is by using a revocable living trust so that John retains better control? In addition, you might wish to take a look at the question Gerry asked for some additional thoughts. There is an article elsewhere in this site that discusses different ways that assets can be owned.

Caution: You must consult with a real estate attorney in your state, and you should also probably speak to an estate planner to make sure that the decisions you are making is really appropriate for you.

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