Minnesota Transfer on Death Deed Form

What is a Minnesota transfer-on-death (TOD) deed?

A Minnesota transfer-on-death deed—often shortened to TOD deed—is a written legal document used to transfer Minnesota real estate to one or more beneficiaries, or grantees, named in the deed. The transfer happens on the owner’s death without the need for probate. The Minnesota legislature authorized Minnesota TOD deeds in 2008.1

What is the purpose of a Minnesota TOD deed?

The Minnesota TOD deed form is designed to avoid probate at death without giving up control of the property during life. An owner who signs a Minnesota TOD deed form controls the property until death. The owner may use the property, sell or mortgage it, or change beneficiaries anytime without telling the beneficiaries named in the deed. Upon the owner’s death, the property passes to the named beneficiaries outside the probate process.

A Minnesota TOD deed serves the same purpose as a living trust, but the TOD deed is less complicated (and much less expensive) than a living trust. State transfer-on-death deed laws were designed to provide a simpler and more cost-effective alternative to living trusts.

What is the benefit of avoiding probate?

Probate is a legal process that requires someone—usually an attorney—to file a sequence of documents with the court and have them approved by a judge. Beyond the cost and work involved, these documents make the deceased owner’s financial affairs a matter of public record. Minnesota property owners use TOD deeds to prevent this hassle, expense, and loss of privacy.

What types of property can be transferred using a Minnesota TOD deed?

A Minnesota TOD can be used only to transfer an interest in real estate (real property). The types of real property it can transfer extend beyond outright ownership and include

a mortgage, a deed of trust, a security interest in, or a security pledge of, an interest in real property, including the rights to payments of the indebtedness secured by the security instrument, a judgment, a tax lien, both the seller’s and purchaser’s interest in a contract for deed, land contract, purchase agreement, or earnest money contract for the sale and purchase of real property, including the rights to payments under such contracts, or any other lien on, or interest in, real property.2

But the deed must describe Minnesota real estate or legal documents related to Minnesota real estate. A Minnesota TOD deed cannot be used to transfer cars or other vehicles, nor can it be used to transfer real estate located in other states.

What is the effect of a Minnesota TOD deed while the owner is alive?

A Minnesota TOD deed is designed to take effect only with the death of the owner.3 It has little effect during the owner’s life. An owner who signs a Minnesota TOD deed form may sell, mortgage, or otherwise deal with the property without involving the beneficiaries named in the deed.

Can the owner sell the property after recording a TOD deed?

Yes. If the owner sells the property after recording a TOD deed that includes the property, no transfer occurs at the owner’s death.4 A lifetime sale revokes, or cancels, the TOD deed.

Is a Minnesota TOD deed revocable?

Yes. A Minnesota TOD deed can be revoked at any time by the owner who makes the deed.5 If there are multiple owners, any owner may revoke the deed.6. A revocation revokes the transfer-on-death deed in its entirety.7 A revocation is effective only if it is recorded in a county where the property is located before the death of the owner.8

Instead of filing a formal revocation, an owner may also revoke the TOD deed by transferring the property to someone else9 or by recording a new TOD deed to replace the earlier one.10

Because a Minnesota TOD deed removes the property from the owner’s probate estate, it cannot be revoked by directions in the owner’s will.11 If the will contains conflicting provisions regarding the transfer of property described in a valid TOD deed, the will has no effect, and the TOD deed will determine who receives the property.

What is the effect of a Minnesota TOD deed when the owner dies?

Upon the death of an owner—or, if multiple owners sign the TOD deed, upon the death of the last owner to die—the TOD deed transfers the property to the named beneficiaries.12 To show the transfer in the land records, the beneficiaries may file a survivorship affidavit and death certificate in the land records, along with a Transfer on Death Deed Application for a Medical Assistance Clearance Certificate (DHS-5893). These documents are not complex, and they inform third parties that the property has been transferred under the TOD deed.

Can a Minnesota TOD deed leave property to multiple beneficiaries?

Yes. A Minnesota TOD deed may name multiple beneficiaries to take title as joint tenants, tenants in common, or any other form of ownership or tenancy valid under Minnesota law.13

Can joint owners sign a Minnesota TOD deed?

Yes. Joint owners may sign a single Minnesota TOD deed to transfer Minnesota real estate. If the owners hold title as joint tenants (with a right of survivorship), the deed takes effect only after the last surviving owner dies.14 This rule allows a married couple to create a single TOD deed that transfers property to children after the second spouse dies.

Must a non-owner spouse sign a Minnesota TOD deed?

Minnesota law generally requires both spouses to sign a deed that transfers a personal home (homestead), even if only one spouse is listed as an owner of the property.15 This rule applies equally to Minnesota TOD deeds.16 Once a non-owner spouse signs the TOD deed, that spouse no longer has or can claim any legal rights or other marital rights to the property.

What happens if the beneficiary named in a Minnesota TOD deed dies before the owner?

A Minnesota TOD deed is subject to the survivorship rules that apply when transfers take effect at death.17 Under these rules, a TOD deed beneficiary inherits only if the beneficiary outlives the deceased owner by at least 120 hours.18 If the beneficiary does not outlive the owner by that amount of time, the transfer to the beneficiary lapses, or fails.

If the beneficiary who dies before the owner is a blood relative (the owner’s grandparent or a descendant of the owner’s grandparent), that beneficiary’s living descendants will inherit his or her property rights.19 If no one exists in that class—or if the TOD deed transfers property to a trust that has been revoked or to an entity that no longer exists, no transfer happens, and the transfer-on-death deed is void.20 To avoid the lapse risk, the deed may name one or more alternate (contingent) beneficiaries and describe what must happen for them to inherit the property.21

Must the owner notify the beneficiaries of the Minnesota TOD deed?

No. A beneficiary’s signature, consent, or agreement under a transfer-on-death deed is not required for any purpose during the owner’s lifetime. The beneficiary does not have to know about a transfer-on-death deed or receive a copy of it.22

Can a Minnesota TOD deed be used when the property is mortgaged?

Yes. A beneficiary who inherits property under a Minnesota TOD deed takes the property subject to any mortgage or deed of trust on it.23 As long as the beneficiary is related to the owner, the TOD deed should not affect the existing mortgage.24

Must a Minnesota TOD deed be recorded?

Yes. A transfer-on-death deed has no effect until it is recorded in the county wherep the real property is located.25 The recording process for a TOD deed differs from the process for other types of Minnesota deeds in two ways:

  1. It requires no certification by the county auditor for transfer of ownership and current and delinquent taxes.
  2. The transfer-on-death deed does not have to include a certificate of real estate value.26

Minnesota is one of only a handful of states that maintains a Torrens system that requires registration. (Even within Minnesota, it is not widely used.) If any part of the property described in the transfer-on-death deed is registered property, the deed may be recorded only if one of the owners signing it is listed on the registered title.27 The registrar of titles does not have to certify or approve a transfer-on-death deed before recording it in the Office of the Registrar of Titles.

Can an agent sign a Minnesota TOD deed under a power of attorney?

Yes. A Minnesota transfer-on-death deed may be signed by an appointed attorney-in-fact, or agent, as long as a power of attorney gives that person the authority to sign deeds.28

What are the requirements for a Minnesota TOD deed?

A Minnesota TOD deed must meet all requirements of Minnesota law and be recorded in a county where at least a part of the real estate described in the deed is located before the owner’s death.29 Because Minnesota law differs from the laws of other states, the TOD deed must be prepared to meet that state’s specific requirements. The use of a fill-in-the-blank form that was not designed with Minnesota law in mind can result in an invalid deed or create title insurance issues.

Need a transfer-on-death deed that meets Minnesota recording requirements?

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  1. See Minn. Stat. § 507.071.
  2. Minn. Stat. § 507.071(1)(e).
  3. Minn. Stat. § 507.071(2).
  4. Minn. Stat. § 507.071(10)(b).
  5. Minn. Stat. § 507.071(10)(a).
  6. Id.
  7. Id.
  8. Id.
  9. Minn. Stat. § 507.071(10)(b).
  10. Minn. Stat. § 507.071(13).
  11. Minn. Stat. § 507.071(19).
  12. Minn. Stat. § 507.071(2).
  13. Minn. Stat. § 507.071(4).
  14. Minn. Stat. § 507.071(6).
  15. Minn. Stat. § 507.02.
  16. See Minn. Stat. § 507.071(2).
  17. See Minn. Stat. § 507.071(2).
  18. Minn. Stat. § 524.2-702(a).
  19. Minn. Stat. § 507.071(11)(a).
  20. Minn. Stat. § 507.071(12).
  21. Minn. Stat. § 507.071(5).
  22. Minn. Stat. § 507.071(18).
  23. Minn. Stat. § 507.071(3).
  24. See 12 USC 1701j-3(d)(5) (a mortgage creditor cannot trigger a due-on-sale clause in response to “a transfer to a relative resulting from the death of a borrower”).
  25. Minn. Stat. § 507.071(8).
  26. Id.
  27. Id.
  28. Minn. Stat. § 507.071(7).
  29. Minn. Stat. § 507.071(8).