If you are like many people, the family home may be the largest of your assets. When it comes to estate planning, the way you handle this large asset can make a huge difference in the way things go for your loved ones and beneficiaries.
Letting Probate Deal With the Home
Unfortunately, most people fail to realize what good planning can do when it comes to how your home processes through probate. If you don't address this issue specifically, probate will take over your home (temporarily) and only release it to your heirs after several months. If you have a living spouse, probate will ensure that the home passes automatically to your current spouse even if you don't mention the home in your will. If you don't have a current spouse, most succession laws and wills will specify that the home should pass to your living natural-born children. During probate, however, the home has to be valued by a professional real estate appraiser (in some states, two appraisals are required).
The probate courts will often appoint or certify a personal representative (or executor) to take care of the home during probate. That means they must see to it that certain real estate-related bills are paid, maintenance is kept up, and the home is secure. For example, some utilities should be left on and paid from the estate fund and the lawns should not be allowed to grow unruly.
These are all things that your heirs would need a probate attorney to help with.
Keeping the Home Away From Probate
The other way to do things is actually far simpler. Any time you can avoid probate, you can gain a more simplified, less expensive, and quicker process. One of the easiest ways to keep your home out of probate is by performing some changes to your deed. You can add the names of any beneficiaries to the deed but the owner retains the right to live in the home until they pass away. Then, the home automatically is passed over to the other people named in the deed. This is known by various names such a life estate, joint tenancy with right of survivorship, and more. Be sure to discuss the details with your estate planning lawyer to find out about any potential issues. For example, in some cases, other persons named on the deed could place at least part of your real property at risk if they declare bankruptcy.
To find out more, speak to a probate lawyer.
Hello, I'm Phillip Kerr and I just love the legal profession and courtroom drama. Have you ever watched judge shows on TV? I know that these shows are not an accurate representation of the courtroom, but there is something you may have noticed. Some individuals come into the courtroom well-dressed, articulate, respectful and with the knowledge and documents necessary to support a case, while others come unprepared, slovenly dressed and appear as if they do not have a care in the world. How you present yourself and the knowledge that you have of the law will have an impact on how you are treated, even if you have legal representation. This blog is designed to assist those who are going to trial in doing just that.