What is a Beneficiary Deed?

Missouri law provides for the right of an owner of real estate to transfer such real estate without submitting that property as part of a probate estate.  In other words, with the right planning, real estate can be transferred without probate. Under 461.025 RSMo, an owner can sign what is a called a “beneficiary deed”— a document which structures a transfer that will occur only upon the owner’s later death.  In many ways, a beneficiary deed functions similarly to a bank “TOD” or other beneficiary designation. To be valid, a beneficiary deed must be signed and recorded during the lifetime of the owner (it can be rescinded or changed during their lifetime with a properly prepared and recorded document). Upon the later death of the owner, a fairly simple affidavit would need to be prepared and recorded to complete the transaction and finalize an ownership transfer.  In practice, a beneficiary deed is an effective tool in transferring real estate while avoiding probate. Of course, every situation is different and there are many instances in which this approach is not appropriate–but in many instances it can be a valuable solution.