Real Estate And Estate Matters: What To Know

For many, what they consider their family home comprises the largest part of their entire estate. With real estate values climbing ever higher lately, the home may be even more valuable than many realize. Read on to find out more about how probate will handle a home and what can be done to make things easier on your loved ones.

Following a Will

If a will is probated, the home is likely addressed within it. Wills can either specifically mention a home along with other assets or it can leave it to be divided with the rest of the property. When it comes to spouses, most states have provisions that don't allow a will to leave a current spouse out of at least some homeownership. If no spouse exists, then the home goes to whoever is mentioned in the will, be it the children or someone else. There are no protective provisions for adult children. They can, however, contest the will if they believe that there was fraud or wrongdoing involved. In many cases, the home is left to the adult children who must figure out how it is to be divided. The choices are many and some of them must be made while the will is still in probate court:

  1. Sell the home and divide any profit.
  2. Rent the home to a third party and split the proceeds after maintenance costs.
  3. Keep the home in the names of all for the time being.
  4. Sell the home to one sibling.

Bypassing Probate

Probate is an old and valued but clumsy way to deal with estates, particularly when it comes to real estate. You must often wait for the probate court's permission to do anything with the home, and they may impose more costs and complications on the matter than is necessary. Fortunately, there are two alternatives to consider that avoid probate.

  • Trusts – Any property mentioned in a trust does not have to pass through probate. The home can be left to a beneficiary, and they can take immediate ownership of it after a death. Even if the home is specifically mentioned in the will, a trust takes precedence over the will.
  • Deeds – Altering a deed can create a seamless pass-through of real estate if you use what is known as a right of survivorship deed. This deed will contain the names of whoever you want to inherit the home along with the name of the current owner. The current owner has the right to reside in the home while living. Then, the home automatically passes to the beneficiaries without having to be probated.

To ensure your home goes to the right person, speak to an estate planning lawyer soon.