What is transfer on death?

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2022 | Estates

When you die, the probate court will disperse your assets according to your estate plan. There are a variety of tools you can use to bypass probate and ensure your heirs receive assets right after your death.

One such option is transfer on death, which the Bureau of Motor Vehicles explains allows your vehicle or other titled assets to immediately transfer into someone else’s name upon your death.


If you wish to create a TOD, you need to get a Certificate of Title and add the person to it, noting they are a TOD beneficiary. The title will then contain the wording that you are transferring the title at death to the person. You must also sign the document to finalize its legality.


You can either do the TOD when you buy a vehicle and get the initial title, or you can add the TOD later. You will need to go to the titling agency to do this.


When you die, the beneficiary will need to provide your death certificate to the titling agency for the transfer to complete. There are no other steps to take, even if your estate is in probate, as the TOD sets the legal precedent for the transfer to occur without outside influence.

Tools such as a TOD can make your probate process go more smoothly. It is also a great way to ensure that your loved ones are not left without access to a titled asset when you die. Just keep in mind this type of arrangement is only valid for titled property that you own completely. If you have a loan on the property, then that creates a different situation that requires working out the loan with the lender.