questions & answers
Question: How can I verify the validity of a Beneficiary Deed?
If the beneficiary deed was done properly, the courts, or the Clerk of the Superior Court in an Arizona county, would have the deed on file. (See the wording at the bottom of the ARS 33-405) You may also wish to speak with an attorney that deals with wills, trusts, and also real estate.
33-405. Beneficiary deeds; recording; definitions
A. A deed that conveys an interest in real property, including any debt secured by a lien on real property, to a grantee beneficiary designated by the owner and that expressly states that the deed is effective on the death of the owner transfers the interest to the designated grantee beneficiary effective on the death of the owner subject to all conveyances, assignments, contracts, mortgages, deeds of trust, liens, security pledges and other encumbrances made by the owner or to which the owner was subject during the owner's lifetime.
B. A beneficiary deed may designate multiple grantees who take title as joint tenants with right of survivorship, tenants in common, a husband and wife as community property or as community property with right of survivorship, or any other tenancy that is valid under the laws of this state.
C. A beneficiary deed may designate a successor grantee beneficiary. If the beneficiary deed designates a successor grantee beneficiary, the deed shall state the condition on which the interest of the successor grantee beneficiary would vest.
D. If real property is owned as joint tenants with the right of survivorship or as community property with the right of survivorship, a deed that conveys an interest in the real property to a grantee beneficiary designated by all of the then surviving owners and that expressly states that the deed is effective on the death of the last surviving owner transfers the interest to the designated grantee beneficiary effective on the death of the last surviving owner. If a beneficiary deed is executed by fewer than all of the owners of real property owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship or community property with right of survivorship, the beneficiary deed is valid if the last surviving owner is one of the persons who executes the beneficiary deed. If the last surviving owner did not execute the beneficiary deed, the transfer shall lapse and the deed is void. An estate in joint tenancy with right of survivorship or community property with right of survivorship is not affected by the execution of a beneficiary deed that is executed by fewer than all of the owners of the real property, and the rights of a surviving joint tenant with right of survivorship or a surviving spouse in community property with right of survivorship shall prevail over a grantee beneficiary named in a beneficiary deed.
E. A beneficiary deed is valid only if the deed is executed and recorded as provided by law in the office of the county recorder of the county in which the property is located before the death of the owner or the last surviving owner. A beneficiary deed may be used to transfer an interest in real property to the trustee of a trust even if the trust is revocable.
F. A beneficiary deed may be revoked at any time by the owner or, if there is more than one owner, by any of the owners who executed the beneficiary deed. To be effective, the revocation must be executed and recorded as provided by law in the office of the county recorder of the county in which the real property is located before the death of the owner who executes the revocation. If the real property is owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship or community property with right of survivorship and if the revocation is not executed by all the owners, the revocation is not effective unless executed by the last surviving owner.
G. If an owner executes and records more than one beneficiary deed concerning the same real property, the last beneficiary deed that is recorded before the owner's death is the effective beneficiary deed.
H. This section does not prohibit other methods of conveying property that are permitted by law and that have the effect of postponing enjoyment of an interest in real property until the death of the owner. This section does not invalidate any deed otherwise effective by law to convey title to the interests and estates provided in the deed that is not recorded until after the death of the owner.
I. The signature, consent or agreement of or notice to a grantee beneficiary of a beneficiary deed is not required for any purpose during the lifetime of the owner.
J. A beneficiary deed that is executed, acknowledged and recorded in accordance with this section is not revoked by the provisions of a will.
K. A beneficiary deed is sufficient if it complies with other applicable laws and if it is in substantially the following form:
I (we) _________________________ (owner) hereby convey to ___________________________ (grantee beneficiary) effective on my (our) death the following described real property:
If a grantee beneficiary predeceases the owner, the conveyance to that grantee beneficiary shall either (choose one):
 Become null and void.
 Become part of the estate of the grantee beneficiary.
(Signature of grantor(s))
L. The instrument of revocation shall be sufficient if it complies with other applicable laws and is in substantially the following form:
Revocation of Beneficiary Deed
The undersigned hereby revokes the beneficiary deed recorded on ___________ (date), in docket or book ______________ at page ________, or instrument number ____________, records of ________________ county, Arizona.
M. For the purposes of this section:
1. "Beneficiary deed" means a deed authorized under this section.
2. "Owner" means any person who executes a beneficiary deed as provided in this section.
How can I verify the validity of a Beneficiary Deed?
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State Bar of Arizona
Maricopa County Bar
Referral number 602-257-4434
Pima County Bar
Referral number 520-623-4625
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Bankruptcy Court Self Help Center
Certified Legal Document Preparer Program