Wednesday, June 21, 2017 / by Nicole Solari
After working hard for so many years, you might have purchased a home you are proud of. However, you might have heard about folks whose families were unable to get the family home after a parent’s death because it was tied up in court with probate issues.
As a parent and spouse, you probably want to spare your children from the expense and burden of probate court. Here are 3 ways to protect your home from probate so that it goes to the person or people you wish it to with as little delay as possible.
1. Use a Living Trust
While you're alive, you might be adamant about managing your personal affairs. However, if you want to be sure that you're legally protecting your estate, you ought to look into a living trust.
With a trustee, usually a trusted friend or family member, you can continue managing all the assets you transfer to the trust while you’re alive. When you finally pass on, the people or person listed as your beneficiaries will then assume the trust and everything it contains.
This is important to remember, because some people fail to update beneficiary information regularly. That could mean that a family member you no longer speak to may end up with some of your most treasured items. Every year, possibly on a favorite holiday or a birthday, ensure that you're checking your documents to be confident that the beneficiaries listed are intended to be there.
The only challenge here is when you have multiple beneficiaries who may still argue and fuss about who gets to make decisions about the house once you're gone. There may be one or two who want to sell the house while others have different plans. If they cannot agree, probate court could still be an issue for your house.
2. Be a Joint Owner
Another thing you can do if you intend to continue living in the house yourself is to amend the deed so that you have a joint ownership deed with the person you hope to leave your home to. When you die, your co-owner is automatically entitled to the house because of an explicit right to survivorship. There is no need to head to probate court.
Just be aware that if you use this idea, you might need the approval of your co-owner if you want to do certain house-related things. For example, if you want to seek a mortgage loan, your new co-owner will have to sign off on it before anything can be done.
3. Include "Transfer on Death" on the Deed
In California, there’s a new option that can protect your house from probate: the "transfer upon death" deed. Just as the phrase suggests, putting that into the wording on your deed will ensure that your home goes to the person named after you pass on.
With these simple tips, you can ensure that the hard work you put into your home isn't in vain. You should be able to protect your house from probate. To be even more confident about it, converse with your financial advisor or a Napa living trust lawyer.
Thanks to our friend and Napa estate planning attorney, Anthony Celaya, for his insight on how you can avoid from getting your home into probate. Anthony is the founding attorney at Celaya Law. He helps families in Napa Valley create estate plans and elder law plans to protect their families and assets.