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Transferring Your Home on Your Death

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There are a number of ways to transfer your home, or other real property, on your death, including joint tenancy with right of survivorship, beneficiary deed, will or trust.

Joint Tenancy and Beneficiary Deed

If you own your home with another person with right of survivorship, your share of the home will automatically transfer to that person on your death. All they need to do is record your death certificate with the county the residence is located in. This is the most efficient way to transfer ownership of your home on your death. However, if you are the sole owner of the property, you probably do not want to transfer part of your ownership during your lifetime.

A beneficiary deed allows you to maintain complete ownership of your home during your lifetime and immediately transfer it to a beneficiary on your death. It does not prevent you from selling your residence and you can revoke the beneficiary deed prior to your death. A beneficiary deed typically names an individual or a trust as the beneficiary. It should not name a charitable organization. Charities typically  do not want to have to sell your home themselves. If you would like to gift the proceeds from the sale of your residence to a charity on your death, you should make this gift through a will or trust. This way, the personal representative of your estate or successor trustee of your trust can sell the property and make the transfer.


You may want to transfer your home through your will if you want to avoid having multiple people named on the deed. Your beneficiaries may not get along at the time of your death, even if you think they would get along now. Further, it is more difficult to make decisions regarding the sale of a property when multiple people are on the deed. All beneficiaries would have to agree on a realtor, sale price and other details related to the sale.

If you have minor children, beneficiaries who cannot manage assets or beneficiaries on public benefits, you may want to consider a testamentary trust. A testamentary trust is a trust created by your will through the probate process. This would allow a third party to manage the home for the benefit of your beneficiaries without the home being titled in their name. You can choose to transfer ownership of the residence to the beneficiary when they reach a particular age or meet some other condition.


If you have a revocable trust as part of your estate plan, you have probably titled the home to your trust or executed a beneficiary deed transferring the home to your trust on your death. Either of these methods allows the successor trustee of your trust to dispose of your property on your death according to the terms of the trust. The trustee could execute a deed transferring the residence from the trust to the beneficiary named in your trust or hold the residence in trust for the benefit of your beneficiaries.

Further, you may want a beneficiary to be able to live or continue living in your home on your death without them owning your home. You can create a right to reside provision in your trust that allows the trustee to hold the residence in trust and allow your beneficiary to live there. The trust can allow the beneficiary to remain in your residence for a number of days or for the rest of their life. Also, you can choose to have expenses related to the property paid from the trust or by the beneficiary. When the beneficiary’s right to reside ends, the trustee can transfer your residence to your remainder beneficiaries.


The best way to transfer your home on your death really depends on your estate planning goals, but all of the above options are worth considering. However, we do not recommend trying to keep your home in your family forever.

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Robert B. Fleming


Robert Fleming is a Fellow of both the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been certified as a Specialist in Estate and Trust Law by the State Bar of Arizona‘s Board of Legal Specialization, and he is also a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. Robert has a long history of involvement in local, state and national organizations. He is most proud of his instrumental involvement in the Special Needs Alliance, the premier national organization for lawyers dealing with special needs trusts and planning.

Robert has two adult children, two young grandchildren and a wife of over fifty years. He is devoted to all of them. He is also very fond of Rosalind Franklin (his office companion corgi), and his homebound cat Muninn. He just likes people, their pets and their stories.

Elizabeth N.R. Friman


Elizabeth Noble Rollings Friman is a principal and licensed fiduciary at Fleming & Curti, PLC. Elizabeth enjoys estate planning and helping families navigate trust and probate administrations. She is passionate about the fiduciary work that she performs as a trustee, personal representative, guardian, and conservator. Elizabeth works with CPAs, financial professionals, case managers, and medical providers to tailor solutions to complex family challenges. Elizabeth is often called upon to serve as a neutral party so that families can avoid protracted legal conflict. Elizabeth relies on the expertise of her team at Fleming & Curti, and as the Firm approaches its third decade, she is proud of the culture of care and consideration that the Firm embodies. Finding workable solutions to sensitive and complex family challenges is something that Elizabeth and the Fleming & Curti team do well.

Amy F. Matheson


Amy Farrell Matheson has worked as an attorney at Fleming & Curti since 2006. A member of the Southern Arizona Estate Planning Council, she is primarily responsible for estate planning and probate matters.

Amy graduated from Wellesley College with a double major in political science and English. She is an honors graduate of Suffolk University Law School and has been admitted to practice in Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia.

Prior to joining Fleming & Curti, Amy worked for American Public Television in Boston, and with the international trade group at White & Case, LLP, in Washington, D.C.

Amy’s husband, Tom, is an astronomer at NOIRLab and the Head of Time Domain Services, whose main project is ANTARES. Sadly, this does not involve actual time travel. Amy’s twin daughters are high school students; Finn, her Irish Red and White Setter, remains a puppy at heart.

Famous people's wills

Matthew M. Mansour


Matthew is a law clerk who recently earned his law degree from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. His undergraduate degree is in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Matthew has had a passion for advocacy in the Tucson community since his time as a law student representative in the Workers’ Rights Clinic. He also has worked in both the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the Pima County Public Defender’s Office. He enjoys playing basketball, caring for his cat, and listening to audiobooks narrated by the authors.