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How can people transfer real estate in their estate plans?

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2024 | Estate Planning |

The more valuable a specific asset is, the more important it becomes to have a plan for what will happen to it when someone dies. Assets may require probate oversight to transfer to new ownership. They can be worth a lot of money, which means that they can affect the financial stability of beneficiaries after someone’s passing.

Certain types of assets, including real property, can easily trigger conflicts among beneficiaries and could influence the comfort of surviving family members after someone’s death. The home where someone lives and any other real property holdings that they own may require careful consideration in a Virginia estate plan.

Deeds may not be the best option

Someone hoping to quickly transfer the home where they live to a new owner after their death may sign a quitclaim deed and put it in storage or give it to someone who may inherit the property later. There are several issues with this approach.

The first is the possibility of someone losing the deed. Additionally, there could be a risk of someone recording the deed ahead of time and causing economic challenges for a testator during their golden years. Deeds executed to bypass probate proceedings could cause conflict among someone’s beneficiaries and raise questions about their intentions.

There are other solutions that can help ensure the appropriate transfer of real property to new owners. If someone wants to use a deed, a document that they can record prior to their death, such as a deed changing how they hold title, could be useful.

Other times, people may want to transfer the ownership of their home to a trust. Doing so can be useful in blended families where a testator wants their spouse to be able to live in the home but prefers that their children inherit the home when their spouse dies or remarries.

In some cases, the chances are good that the beneficiaries of an estate may not want to assume possession of the home but are instead likely to sell the property after someone’s death. Having plans in place for that contingency can also be important, as the sale of real property could trigger large tax obligations that might diminish the overall amount inherited by beneficiaries.

What someone wants to do with their home after their passing and their family relationships can strongly influence the best estate planning solutions that they might want to employ. As such, identifying the assets that add the most value and risk of conflict to an estate plan – and seeking legal guidance accordingly – may benefit those trying to craft a meaningful legacy.