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Witnesses Now Required to Sign Transfer on Death Deeds in California

Transfer on death (TOD) deeds can be a valuable tool in estate planning, and are used as a way to transfer real property to a beneficiary on the owner’s death without the property having to pass through probate.

Effective January 1, 2022, the California Legislature amended California Probate Code section 5624 to require that TOD deeds be signed by two adult witnesses to be valid.

To avoid potential litigation down the road, the witnesses should generally not be beneficiaries on the deed (recipients of the property on the owner’s death).

With this new witness requirement, the following steps should be followed to finalize a transfer on death deed in California:

  • The owner of the property signs the deed.
  • Two adult non-beneficiary witnesses sign the deed.
  • The owner’s signature is notarized.
  • The deed is recorded with the County recorder’s office within 60 days of the owner’s signature being notarized.

Depending on the situation, additional steps may be needed to ensure the deed is effective.  If you are interested in using a transfer on death deed as part of your estate planning, contact our office to speak with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys.