There was once a time when families always passed down home from generation to generation. But for a while now, it’s become much more common to down-size later in life and leave behind a small home in a will. Then when you pass, the family will generally sell. However you want to do it, planning for what happens to your property when you’re gone is just part of home ownership.
Get Your Paperwork in Order
You really do need to put clear, specific words on your intentions. See a lawyer to draft a precises, confusion-free will or living trust.
A living trust means the home won’t have to go through probate like it would if it were willed, and you can exercise more control over what happens to your possessions. When assets are left through a will, about 5 to 15 percent of the total value of the estate goes to pay probate and legal fees. Creating a trust means those costs and be paid by you upfront.
Willing Your Home to Your Children
If you die without a will, your home does not automatically go to your children in a clean and easy way. It can be a legal mess, with your family fighting over the right to keep or sell it. Especially if you want someone other than your children to inherit your home, or you have step-kids, you’ll want to spell out exactly who your intended beneficiaries are in your will. No will is no good.
A common occurrence is for the beneficiaries of a property to not have equal financial footing. Often the kid with lots of debt wants to sell and the one who’s well off wants to keep it. Or maybe two different kids want to move their families in.
When there is one home in a will and multiple people have a slice of it, things get messy. Think ahead, discuss with your kids what they would each like ideally and make provisions that make your intentions clear. Maybe plan for it to be sold and the proceeds split. Or leave the entire home in a will to one child and other things to other children. It’s entirely up to you to decide.
The Other Options
Some homeowners decide to sell and move into an apartment, live with an adult child, or go to a “senior living home” for the last years of their lives. This allows you to just split up the home’s value in cash form in advance.
Of course, you can also stay in your home. You can choose to leave it to a charitable organization, or someone outside your family. Not matter what you do, you need to arrange for it in writing. With the help of a lawyer, and in advance.
First, we hope you never die. If that doesn’t work out, we home you have made your plans and arrangements well so your family can focus on other things than handling your estate.