How to Transfer Real Property After Death

Gift a family member with your real property.

It is common for a property owner to gift a family member or beneficiary with real property upon his death. The transfer process requires the itemization of important documents. The transfer process is best overseen by a real estate lawyer who, along with your trust and insurance company, can help you navigate the filing process if you go that route. If you do not, you can also transfer real property on your own.

Step 1

Contact your local county register of deeds office to obtain a copy of your property deed if you do have one. The deed contains a legal description of your property.

Step 2

With your beneficiary consult a certified accountant to discuss gift tax requirements that may be required upon transfer of your property. Gift tax exemptions are available; however, restrictions apply.

Step 3

Transfer real property, or real estate, to a specified beneficiary. Create a living will that itemizes the real property, including any land and improvements such as wells, ponds and fences. Register your will with the state health department where you reside. Proceed to steps 4 and 5 for alternate transfer options.

Step 4

Assign a trustee over the property by way of a trust, which is overseen by a third party, separate from the beneficiary. Grant the trustee legal title, which affords her the legal right to manage and control the property, and grant the beneficiary equitable title, which affords him the legal right to receive and enjoy the property.

Step 5

Obtain a life insurance policy and transfer your real property contractually therein. The real property will be transferred upon your death.


Ask your trustee or real estate attorney if it is necessary to register your trust with a local probate court. Not all states require you to register a trust.

Hire an estate attorney to witness and oversee the transfer process.

Things You'll Need

  • Will

  • Trust

  • Life insurance