Home ownership is the American dream, but ownership of real estate can also complicate estate planning and make it difficult for beneficiaries to sell a property they perhaps cannot afford. While working with people trying to keep their home or a loved one’s home out of probate, there are a few options to consider.
1. Joint Ownership
If a home is jointly owned by two people, it will almost certainly not have to go through the probate process. Instead, it becomes the sole property of the other owner. This can make the home selling process significantly easier if the other party cannot afford the home on their own or simply does not want to keep the house. The joint owner can move forward immediately with the sale instead of waiting out the probate process.
2. Transfer Upon Death
Another option to consider is setting up a “transfer-on-death” deed. This type of deed, which is a someone new development in California, permits homeowners to protect their loved ones from the probate process after their passing.
This type of deed is set up to transfer the ownership of the house to a beneficiary upon the owner’s death. This allows the individual to keep their home while they’re alive while still helping their family avoid the probate process. If a property is owned by two people and both people want to transfer the home upon their deaths, each owner must have a separate transfer-on-death deed.
3. Living Trust
Perhaps the most straightforward option for many people is a living trust. This is the gold standard. Those who choose a living trust set up a separate entity – the trust itself – and transfer their property to the trust. They generally remain in control of the trust until they pass away or become incapacitated. The trust then passes to the named trustee, who can administer assets as requested by the decedent.
This option is flexible, since it doesn’t only include one’s home. Individuals can put any property into a living trust and give their loved ones the chance to avoid probate.
Regardless of how individuals choose to keep their home out of probate, all options require forethought and planning, demonstrating the importance of estate planning that accounts for various situations and needs.
If all of an individual’s beneficiaries know that they do not want to retain ownership of the individual’s home after they pass, one of these arrangements can make it easier to sell the house and distribute the profits.
Selling and purchasing homes in probate requires an extensive knowledge of California estate planning law. Turn to the team at Werner Law Firm to discuss your goals and plan your next step – contact us today to set up an appointment.