Calif. Family Code §§2337 and 2040; Calif. Probate Code §§69, 250, 267, 279, 2580, 5000, 5302, 13111, 13206, 13562, 5600, 5601, 5602, 5603, 5604, 5040 and 5600
Amended and added by A. B. 139
Effective date: January 1, 2016

A revocable transfer on death deed (RTDD) may be recorded to transfer real estate upon the death of the owner without probate proceedings. The RTDD may be used to transfer:

  • real estate improved by a one-to-four unit residence;
  • individual condominium units, including the right to use common areas; and
  • agricultural land of no more than 40 acres which includes a single-family residence (SFR).

An RTDD is defined as any document created to transfer real estate without covenant or warranty of title to a beneficiary upon the owner’s death. The RTDD is revocable until the owner dies. The document needs to include specific language required by the state.

Editor’s note – RPI will provide standard RTDD forms which include the language mandated by the state. These forms will be available on our Forms Download page when they are finalized.

To create an RTDD, the owner needs to:

  • have the capacity to contract;
  • name the beneficiary;
  • sign and date the RTDD in the presence of a notary; and
  • record the RTDD within 60 days of its signing before a notary.

If more than one deed creating a revocable transfer is recorded for the same real estate, only the most recent deed is effective. If another type of deed recorded before the owner’s death creates an irrevocable transfer of real estate, the RTDD is ineffective.

Owner’s rights with an RTDD

An owner’s rights are not affected by an RTDD prior to the transfer. The RTDD does not convey real estate, create property rights for the beneficiary or prohibit action by the transferor’s creditors to collect on any encumbrances on the real estate until after the owner dies and the real estate is transferred.

Upon the owner’s death

Upon the owner’s death, the RTDD transfers real estate to the beneficiary under the terms established in the deed.

Multiple beneficiaries receive real estate transferred by an RTDD as tenants in common. If any one of the multiple beneficiaries cannot receive their share of the property, their share is transferred to the other beneficiaries in equal shares.

An RTDD is ineffective or void if:

  • the beneficiary does not outlive the transferor;
  • the real estate is held in joint tenancy or as community property with a right to survivorship.

Beneficiary liability

Liens against the real estate existing prior to the transfer have priority over any debts or obligations accumulated by the beneficiary. The transferred real estate is subject to any encumbrances existing at the time of the owner’s death.

Revocation of an RTDD

An RTDD may be revoked any time up to the owner’s death without the consent or notice of the beneficiary. The revocation document needs to be created in the same manner as the RTDD: signed by a notary and recorded within 60 days of the signing.

Revocation of an RTDD does not reinstate any prior deed rendered inactive by the RTDD.

RTDDs are only effective if recorded before January 1, 2021.

Editor’s note – These requirements become effective on January 1, 2016. However, an owner of real estate may create an RTDD. In this case, the effective date refers to the date of the owner’s death – meaning, as long as an owner dies on or after January 1, 2016, an RTDD may be enacted. If an owner’s death occurs prior to the effective date, an RTDD may not be enacted.

Read the bill text.