California Transfer-on-Death Deed

Even in death, we cannot avoid paperwork. And that is not a bad thing. After all, this is how to take care of our loved ones, even from the other world. Drafting a will is expensive and time-consuming, but there are alternatives. You can use this free fillable Transfer-on-Death Deed to assign a new owner to your real property after you die in California.

Drawing up this template will cost you less than a will. Furthermore, you can change your mind and amend this document. Completing this document is very simple. For instance, you can use our form-building software to create this Deed in California. Then it needs to be registered. Below are step-by-step instructions on this process.

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This type of Deed has several benefits:

  • Savings on legal costs. This is the least expensive option for transferring property after death.
  • The uselessness of a will. Unlike other documents, this type of paper does not need a will to be valid.
  • Continuity of ownership. The current owner continues to be the property owner until their death without any change or consequence during their lifetime.
  • Flexibility and control. The current property owner continues to control the property and can make changes about the future owner or cancel the form altogether at any time.
  • Continued benefits. If the current owner has tax credits or homestead status, these will continue to apply as long as they are alive.

Transfer-on-Death Deed Laws and Requirements in California

The sanctioned type of this document appeared in California for the first time less than ten years ago, just in 2016. California joined other states already adopting this form. Of course, the state has its laws regarding the preparation and use of the Transfer-on-Death Deed.


Basic provisions and even an example of a form can be found in § 5642-5644 of California State Law. In §5642 (b), you will find answers to the most popular questions that you may have in connection with the use of the document.

Signing requirements

You must sign this document in the presence of a notary public. The notary should certify the document, so you have to spend money on notary fees.

Recording requirements

Like all types of deeds, this document must be recorded with the Recorder’s Office of the County where the property is situated. This must be done within 60 days after the signing date.


Although drafting a document is cheaper than drafting a will, you still have to pay some fees. Find out the amount of payment in the Recorder’s Office.

How to Fill Out and File a Transfer-on-Death Deed in California

1. Write the Grantor’s Details

Start filling from the upper left corner of the paper. Specify who requests the recording and the address to which the document should be sent after its registration. We advise you to enter your details to get this form back without any problems.

2. Fill in the Property Details

After the name, write the Assessor’s Parcel Number and give a complete legal description of the property.

3. Specify the Beneficiary

You can specify either one person or several, in which case they will be co-owners. Fill in their full names, making a note of your degree of relationship (for instance, wife, daughter, and so on).

4. Sign and Date

In the presence of a notary public, write the current date, your signature, and the printed name.

5. Let the Notary Sign the Form

The process ends with the certification of the document by a notary public. They should fill out their section by entering the following information:

  • Name of the state
  • Name of the county
  • Date
  • Their name and title
  • Grantor’s name
  • Signature and seal

6. Register the Form

Now you just have to pay the fee and send the document to the Recorder’s Office. They will send it back to the address indicated at the beginning.

As you can see, this document is not difficult to complete, and it does not take a lot of time. However, you need to be conscious about choosing your beneficiaries and follow instructions for completing the deed.

Published: Apr 27, 2022