Avoiding probate is one of the goals of good estate planning. If your estate lawyer can do that, you will save your heirs time, money, and stress. One great way to help keep one of the largest assets out of probate's hands involves special designations on real estate deeds. To find out more, read on.
Keeping Real Estate Out Of Probate
It's been said that the family home is the most valuable asset many people leave behind. Unless you act now, the home and just about everything else will come under the control of the probate court. For practical purposes, that can be annoying and time-consuming. Probate can take time, and that time is not becoming any shorter. Unfortunately, the pandemic has resulted in both more deaths and a lack of enough court personnel to cope with the paperwork and hearings. You can make a simple provision, however, that removes your home from the probate's grasp and puts it back in the hands of your beneficiaries.
The deeds being discussed here are known by various names. You might hear them referred to as life estate deeds, rights of survivorship deeds, and more. Also, this type of deed designation is appropriate only for those not leaving behind a spouse. Spouses have rights and protections in all states that usually include being automatically provided the family home regardless of a will or other estate instruments. Here is what to know about this special deed:
- The deed is changed to reflect new names on the deed in addition to the home's present owner. This must be done before incapacity or death, however.
- As long as the owner of the home is living, they have the power to remove the names, add other names, or go back to a single owner deed.
- Once the owner passes away, the home becomes the property of the named persons on the deed. No probate is necessary, so the survivors can take ownership of the home right away.
- A quick trip to the courthouse after your lawyer draws up the deed is all that is needed, and it is effective immediately.
- The new owners have all the rights of the previous owner. However, prior to the owner's death, all of those listed on the deed must agree if and when the home is sold.
- Everyone listed on the deed is responsible for paying property taxes on the home and any other needed expenses.
- There is one caveat for those considering this move, however. In the event that one of the persons listed on the deed is sued or declares bankruptcy, that portion of the home could be in jeopardy.
To learn more about this easy way to avoid probate with your largest asset, speak to an estate planning attorney.