Ask Terry Questions Children’s name on title of house

Children’s name on title of house

By Terry Savage on October 14, 2019 | Housing / Real Estate

My name was on the title of my mothers house along with her name. When she died it was very easy to sell the house.
My question – Should I put one of my three children on my house title.? If yes, how do I choose which child?
One is stay at home mom, one owns his own business, one is working. I am 70 years old and have all my affairs in order, except for this situation.
Thank you for your advice.

Terry Says

My first question is:  What do you expect to happen to the home after your death?  Is there one child who especially wants to keep it and live there — or do you expect it will be sold?  If you think the home will likely be sold — or want it to be sold so there is no arguing — then the best thing to do is go to an estate=planning lawyer and create a Revocable Living Trust.  Then ask the lawyer to re-title the house in the name of your trust.  (There is no tax consequence, and you can sell the home if you want to at any time.)  You will name a successor trustee (you are the trustee while you are alive and well) to carry out your instructions after your death, or if you are incapacitated.  Those instructions could be to sell the home and divide the proceeds.

Of course, that still means you will likely name one of your children to be trustee!  Or perhaps, co-trustee with your attorney.

Now, if you specifically want one child to own the house after your death, you could also place that direction in your revocable living trust.  Then, you might have specific bequests to the other children.  If it doesn’t work out equal in a monetary sense, then if you are in good health you could buy a life insurance policy and name the other two children as equal beneficiaries.

You need to re-title any and all property inthe name of your RLT — except for things like your car or everyday checking account.  But if you have a money market account or other investments, those should all be changed into the name of the trust — where they will be distributed according to your instructions after your death.  And that is where you make specific bequests — like the “good china” or your “engagement ring” or other jewelry.

I know it sounds complicated, but an attorney who specializes in “estate planning” will do this for you at a low cost, and very quickly.  And only then will your “affairs be in order”!

PS  As I finish writing this, it occurs to me that there is only one exception to this advice:  If one of your children lives with you, and if you need Medicaid-paid long-term care, and have to move out of the house, under current law an adult child residing with you and with his/her name on the title cannot be evicted and the property cannot be sold.  Just something to think about.



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