I have two children. I am the only one purchasing the house and I am not married. What type of deed would be best for me?
ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS-BELIVEAU:
You should always consult with an estate planning attorney as there are many options. Which one you pick depends on your age, your financial situation, and the ages of your children and grandchildren.
If you add other people as joint owners on the deed, you will be making a gift to them. This means that your ownership will be subject to their creditors as well as future divorces. If one of your children predecease you, you have no control over who inherits your child’s ownership in your property. If you want to sell the property during your life, all the owners must agree. The proceeds of the sale will be divided among the owners. Also, a joint owner has the right to sell his portion of the property. If you did not buy the interest back, the joint owner has the right to force a sale of the property on the open market.
You may consider reserving a life estate and deeding the remainder to your children. A remainderman can’t force a life estate owner from the property. You will face the same issue as above if you want to sell the property. The value of your reserved life estate decreases each year that you are alive, so you may receive much less than owning the property equally. Once again, if one of your children predeceases you, you have no control over who inherits your child’s ownership in the property.
You may consider placing the property into a trust. It avoids all the problems occurring from joint ownership and a life estate ownership, while skipping probate. The up front costs of establishing a trust are significantly more that preparing a deed.
Finally, you may own the property in your own name and execute a Will, allowing the property to go through probate. The cost of probate is much greater than the cost of creating the trust, but is paid after your death.
Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice.
Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire
The estate planning attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provide legal services for estate and asset protection planning. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Waltham, Massachusetts; and Salem, New Hampshire.