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DIY Estate Planning Mistake #15: Deed in Safety Deposit Box

Posted by Nina Whitehurst | May 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

Some do-it-yourselfers have tried to transfer real property to another person, to be effective at death, by signing and acknowledging an actual deed but then hide the deed in a desk drawer or safety deposit box to be found when the grantor dies, expecting that the grantee can then take the deed to the recorder's or register of deeds office and record it.

This technique does not work because of the failure of one of the elements of a proper conveyance of real property, which is "delivery" of the deed.  The deed must be delivered to the grantee during the grantor's lifetime with the intention of making a present conveyance.  The deed in the drawer or safety deposit box fails that element.

To make a transfer that is not effective until death, you should consider the following valid techniques:

  • Last Will and Testament
  • Revocable Living Trust
  • Transfer on Death Deed aka Beneficiary Deed (not available in all states)
  • Ladybird Deed (not available in all states)
  • Joint Tenancy With Right of Survivorship (but be aware of the risks)

If you want to leave a particular piece of property to a particular person upon your death but not before, call us at 931-250-8585 to schedule an appointment to discuss the technique what will work best for you. 

About the Author

Nina Whitehurst

Attorney at Law Nina has been practicing law for over 30 years in the areas of estate planning, real estate and business law She is currently licensed in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Tennessee. Her Martindale-Hubbell attorney rating is the highest achievable: 5 stars in peer...


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