Thank you for your question.
In summary: Joe and Steve would not be able to claim anything on the
property, which completely belongs to your mother until her death. If
one of the children dies or is divorced after your mother's death,
that would be completely different because Sally and Jane would at
that time be co-owners in the property, and Joe and Steve would both
have claims to Jane and Sally's portions of property, respectively.
But before your mother's death, only she owns it if her name is the
only one on the title and no one else could have any sort of claim to
A very convenient factor in the transfer on death deed is that the
beneficiaries can be changed at any time. If one of your siblings
dies, your mother would be able to revise the deed to remove that
child from the deed to keep it updated. Including only her children's
names would help the situation, as only named beneficiaries inherit.
The transfer on death deed does not give the named beneficiaries any
interest in the property while the current owner is still alive; if
she dies and Steve and Sally get divorced two months later, he could
make a claim on Sally's section of the property since the interest of
ownership has by that time already transferred to Sally. Joe could do
the same if Jane dies after she inherits her section of the property.
But if they get divorced before your mother's death, Sally owns
nothing in the property and therefore Steve would have nothing to go
after, and if Jane dies before your mother's death, likewise she would
not own any property yet and so Joe wouldn't have any claim to make.
It is still 100 percent your mother's property until her death unless
she executes a quit claim deed or something of that nature. The
transfer on death is exactly like the title of the document implies--
transferable on death and not at any other time.
Cuyahoga County Recorder's Office
"The Transfer On Death Deed does not establish a present ownership
interest in the beneficiary named on the deed.
You may change the deed, naming a new beneficiary or beneficiaries, at
any time before your death."
In addition, if a beneficiary named in the deed dies, their portion of
the property is meted out to the other named beneficiaries. Joe would
not be eligible to get anything since Jane (the named beneficiary) is
Ohio State University Ohioline Estate Planning Considerations
"Heirs to named beneficiaries who did not survive the property owner do not hold
a legal interest in the property."
This can cause problems and is why some organizations recommend
against the transfer on death deed, due to the fact that Jane's heirs
(any grandchildren) would not get any part of their grandmother's
estate unless they were specifically made contingent beneficiaries.
Legal Aid Society of Cleveland
"If you name two people and one
dies, the property goes to the one still
living. Or, if you like, you can name a contingent beneficiary who
gets the property if the original beneficiary dies."
"A situation in which we would rec-
ommend against the new type deed, for
example, is if you are a widow with four
children who are named as your TOD
beneficiaries. If one child dies before you
do and you have not changed your TOD
Deed, the result may not be what you in-
tend. The property will go to the three liv-
ing children, but the children of your de-
ceased child will get no share of the prop-
erty if you did not name them as contin-
Of course, you can name all of
your grandchildren as contingent benefici-
aries, but you would have to do a new deed
each time a grandchild is born.
We generally do not recommend a
TOD Deed if you have more than two chil-
dren unless there are NO grandchildren
and there won?t be any?a difficult thing
to predict. The more names you add to the
TOD Deed, the more complicated the
situation could become."
So, for instance, if your mother wanted Jane's children Mac and Dodie
to inherit Jane's portion of the property in case Jane dies before
your mother does, your mother could name Mac and Dodie as contingent
beneficiaries. If Jane dies and your mother does not redo the deed,
Jane's portion would be split among the remaining siblings rather than
going to Joe (since Joe is not named) if there are no contingent
beneficiaries, or to Mac and Dodie if they are named as contingent
Ohio State Bar Association
"Q.: What if the transfer beneficiary dies before the owner?
A.: A contingent Transfer-On-Death beneficiary can be designated. For
example, the Transfer-On-Death beneficiary could be "Mary Smith, if
living; otherwise John Smith." If no named beneficiary is living, the
real estate becomes part of the owner's probate estate."
It is also important to know that there are requirements for how a
deed must be formulated, and if it does not conform to the laws, it
will be thrown out and the estate will go through probate.
Agricultural Law and Estate Planning
"While the Transfer on Death Deed does away with the need for probate,
a property owner should not try to avoid the use of an attorney for
preparation of the deed. A deed that does not conform to the
requirements of the law will be deemed invalid, and the property must
then pass through the deceased's estate."
Ohio Law Library-- Frequently Asked Questions
Transfer on Death Deed
Ohio Department of Insurance-- page 6
transfer on death deed ohio
transfer on death deed ohio beneficiary's spouse
If you need any additional clarification, let me know and I'll be glad
to assist you.