Previously, I posted an article pertaining to the operation of beneficiary deeds. This post should clear up any ambiguities and aims to discuss a few things more specifically.
With deeds conveying real estate, there generally needs to be some sort of delivery of the deed to be effective. However, with a beneficiary deed, no delivery is necessary. 461.025, RSMo, specifically states that delivery is not required for a beneficiary deed to be effective. Instead, the deed need only be recorded before the owner’s death.
In addition to relaxing the delivery requirement, Missouri Beneficiary deeds are freely revocable (a smart attorney will attach a revocation sheet to the deed should the owner be so inclined), the owner still retains complete right in the property, and a beneficiary only has a future interest in the property; as such, he or she has no basis for claiming proceeds from the sale of property subject to a beneficiary deed of which he or she is the beneficiary.
Not everything is rosy, however. Should a beneficiary receive property under a beneficiary deed, the beneficiary may be subject to creditors’ rights actions under 461.300, RSMo. For instance, if my great-aunt’s estate was in debt and I received her home via a beneficiary deed, my great-aunt’s creditors could attack my interest and seek satisfaction of some of the debts.
More shortfalls include the fact that a beneficiary deed cannot be corrected after the owner’s death to correct a unilateral mistake. This is particularly problematic given the fact that beneficiary deeds must use very precise language to be effective (e.g., there is a legally operative difference between the words “grant and convey” and “bargain and sell” when used in a beneficiary deed).
Moreover, like with most probate and estate matters, beneficiary deeds often contain very confusing language. Case in point: “LDPS” (lineal descendants per stirpes) is an abbreviation very commonly used on beneficiary deeds.
One last note to consider: beneficiary deeds are generally kept on public record in a given county’s recorder of deeds office. Consequently, some people may not want the details of their beneficiary deed known. If that is the case, then you would probably want a Trust (which is properly funded) to avoid any publicity.