The Missouri beneficiary deed form allows property to be automatically transferred to a new owner when the current owner dies, without the need to go through probate. It also gives the current owner retained control over the property, including the right to change his or her mind about the transfer.
Special language is required to ensure that the deed qualifies as a beneficiary deed. This language is automatically included by our deed preparation service and valid in all Missouri counties.
A Missouri beneficiary deed form—also known as a Missouri transfer-on-death deed form or simply Missouri TOD deed form—is a written document that transfers real estate at an owner’s death. It works in much the same way as a POD or TOD designation on a bank account. The owner retains complete control over the property during life. The owner can sell the property or change the beneficiary designation without involving the beneficiary. At the owner’s death, the property passes to beneficiary without the need for probate. The Missouri beneficiary deed is authorized by the Nonprobate Transfers Law of Missouri.
Under the default rules of the Missouri statute, a beneficiary does not inherit under a beneficiary deed unless he or she survives the owner by at least 120 hours. If the beneficiary is a descendant of the owner (for example, a child or grandchild), then the property will pass to the deceased beneficiary’s descendants (if any). These default rules can be changed by language on the deed. Our online deed preparation service provides options to customize the way that deceased beneficiaries are treated.
Although the authorizing statute does not require a specific name, the statute uses the term beneficiary deed to refer to a deed that transfers property at death, making Missouri one of a handful of states—including Arizona, Arkansas, and Colorado—that use this term to refer to this type of deed. Most other states use the term transfer-on-death deed or TOD deed to refer to the same type of instrument. Because the Uniform Real Property Transfer on Death Act also uses the term transfer-on-death deed, it is more common than the term beneficiary deed.
Although a beneficiary deed serves many of the same purposes as a lady bird deed, the two documents have different legal origins and work in different ways. Lady bird deeds are not used in Missouri. A Missouri beneficiary deed form is usually the best option for a deed that transfers Missouri real estate at death.
A Missouri beneficiary deed form has several important benefits that make it a popular estate planning tool for avoiding Missouri probate. These benefits include:
Unlike some states, Missouri does not have a statutorily approved TOD deed form. A Missouri beneficiary deed form must generally meet all of the requirements that apply to other types Missouri deeds, including a valid legal description, page format requirements, and legally sufficient notary acknowledgments. The Nonprobate Transfers Law of Missouri also includes two requirements that apply specifically to beneficiary deeds:
Unlike some other types of deeds, a Missouri beneficiary deed need not include a statement of consideration and need not be delivered to the beneficiary. The deed is valid when signed, notarized, and recorded as required by law.
It is not uncommon for multiple owners—most often married couples—to own Missouri real estate. If two or more joint owners hold title jointly with right of survivorship and make a beneficiary deed, the deed does not become effective until the death of the second owner. On the death of the first owner, the property passes to the surviving owner. On the death of the surviving owner, the property passes to the designated beneficiaries.
A beneficiary deed may also transfer property to multiple beneficiaries. If the deed names multiple beneficiaries that survive the owner, the beneficiaries will take title without a right of survivorship. On the death of one beneficiary, his or her interest will pass to his or her probate estate instead of passing to the surviving beneficiary or beneficiaries. The Missouri statute allows the deed to change this result by creating a right of survivorship in the beneficiaries.
Missouri beneficiary deeds are authorized by statute and must meet the requirements of the authorizing statute to be valid. These requirements include special language to ensure that the deed is properly characterized as a beneficiary deed that takes effect at death (and not an outright transfer of the property). The deed must also meet most requirements that apply to other Missouri deed forms.
It is important to get the deed format and language right. Even minor differences in language can have significant legal consequences. The deeds created by our online deed preparation service were attorney-designed to meet the requirements of the Missouri transfer-on-death deed laws and the laws that apply to general real estate transfers. Each deed is designed to eligible for recording in all Missouri counties.