By Quentin Fottrell
‘My dad says the house will pass to me in a transfer-on-death deed, so it cannot be contested by my half-brother. Is that correct?’
My mother and father were married for almost 60 years, and my mother just passed away. I grew up an only child. I am my father’s only child; however, my mother was married before him and has a son who is my half-brother. She didn’t raise him, nor did she see him until he looked her up about 20 years ago.
When my mother died, my father wanted to make sure I inherited their home, their savings and their personal property without it going through probate, ensuring nothing could be contested. This is what he did. He filed a transfer-on-death deed with the county recorder in our county in regards to the house. When he dies, the house will automatically go in my name. No probate needed.
He then went to the bank, and on his checking and savings he made the accounts TOD (transfer on death) to me. The only thing left is the furniture and personal contents of the house, which he left in his will to me. His wishes are that I inherit everything, and they were the wishes of my mother too.
My half-brother is 10 years older than me and a very nice man. I’ve seen him maybe four or five times at most in the last 20 years and never before that. We really don’t stay in contact. My dad says the house will pass to me in a transfer-on-death deed, so it cannot be contested by my half-brother. Is that correct? Have we done the right thing? And are we overlooking anything?
Half-Sister and Daughter in Missouri
A transfer-on-death deed means the house becomes yours after your father’s passing. It works in the same way as a beneficiary on a bank account or insurance policy. As you say, it also avoids probate — the public accounting of your father’s assets and liabilities — because the house transfers to you upon his death. It is an alternative to putting you on the deed today. This way, he maintains responsibility for and ownership of the property during his lifetime.
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