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It is possible to challenge transfer-on-death beneficiary deeds

| Jun 13, 2019 | Estate Litigation |

Some New Jersey residents, in an effort to prevent their beneficiaries from having to go through a long, drawn-out probate process, choose to create transfer-on-death beneficiary deeds. Under the right circumstances, and if everything is done just so, this can work, and there are benefits to going this route. Of course, such deeds are not without their drawbacks as well. For example, they only cover certain types of property, and it is possible to challenge them in court. 

Before digging into how to challenge a transfer-on-death beneficiary deed, let’s cover the basics. For property owned in New Jersey, this type of deed can only be used to assign registered stocks and bonds to the beneficiary of the estate owner’s choice. For property owned outside of the state, TOD deeds may be used for other types of assets, as each state has its own rules about TOD benefits. The asset will not be distributed to the beneficiary until the owner’s death. The individual receiving the property will not have the ability to sell it immediately if that is what they wish to do; instead, they have to give anyone who wishes to challenge the property title the opportunity to do so.

There are a number of reasons someone might want to challenge a TOD deed. There are those who are simply unhappy with their loved one’s choice and do not want to see the property end up in the assigned beneficiary’s hands, and there are some who may have concerns about their loved one’s state of mind when he or she created the TOD deed — among other things. Whatever the reason, those who believe they have valid claims to the property have every right to challenge the TOD deed.

In order to make a claim on property assigned in a transfer-on-death beneficiary deed, one has to file a petition in court. This petition has to be filed in the window allowed; otherwise, one will lose the opportunity to make a claim on the asset. An individual who would like to challenge a TOD in the state of New Jersey can seek the help of an experienced probate litigator who will be able to ensure the claim is filed appropriately and then present one’s case in court.