Real Estate Transfers to Heirs: 3 Options
If you’re creating an estate plan and want to leave your home to your family, there are a wide variety of
options that allow you to do this. Each comes with its own benefits and drawbacks, and each state may
have different laws that impact the transfers. Always talk to your estate planning attorney for detailed
advice before you decide on any particular method.
Method 1: Joint Ownership. Joint owned property is often used by people who have developed no
estate plan at all, as well as by those with a more comprehensive estate plan. For couples who own the
family home together, they typically do so in joint tenancy with the right of survivorship. This allows
each spouse to own the home at the same time while the surviving spouse automatically inherits the
property upon the death of the other spouse.
Method 2: Will Transfer. A Will allows you to transfer your family home to an heir directly or
indirectly. You can use a testamentary trust, for example, or transfer it directly to one heir for his or her
lifetime and another after the first heir dies. The will must be explicit in how you wish to transfer the
property, and it may take some time for the ownership to transfer through the probate process.
Method 3: Trust transfers. Transferring a family home to a Trust gives you greater flexibility in how
you wish to transfer the home to your heirs. You can, for example, place conditions on the transfer,
such as stating that your child will only inherit the property when he or she graduates from college.
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