Bequeathing Your Home Using a Real Estate Transfer on Death

Many people are familiar with the option to title your checking or savings account as a POD, or Payable on Death. When you pass away, the bank account easily transfers to the named individual, without any fees, taxes, or most importantly the need to go through probate. What many people do not know is that in Wisconsin, you can similarly title your house or other real estate as a TOD, or Transfer on Death. For many people, this is a very inexpensive and elegant procedure to bequeath your home to another person without drafting a will or trust.

In Wisconsin, you simply need to complete a 1-page Designation of TOD Beneficiary Form. You will need the legal description of the property and the parcel ID number, which can be found on your original deed. You then file the form with your county’s Register of Deeds for a $30 fee. There are no tax consequences of filing this, and there is no real estate transfer fee.

After your death, the person listed as the TOD Beneficiary simply needs to file another 1-page document, called a Transfer on Death to Beneficiary, along with a certified copy of the death certificate and another $30 fee. After that, they are the official owners of the property, without the cost or hassle of going through Probate or administering a trust.