Estate and succession planning requires the assistance of a skilled trust and estate attorney. This week’s self-help blunder to avoid: Adding family members other than a spouse to the deed to your home.
This is a mistake for four (4) reasons. #1, if your family member owes money to anyone, including for taxes, late payments towards a bank loan, debts arising out of an injury accident, a divorce, or a bad business decision, the creditor can force the sale of your real estate; #2, if you want to sell your home or obtain a reverse mortgage or line of credit secured by the home, you will have to get the agreement of your co-owner; #3, this is likely to be the type of gift that you are required to report to the IRS; #4, depending on the provisions of the deed, it will not pass to any other family members, or according to your will at all.
What about my spouse?
This depends on a number of factors including whether this is a first marriage, whether you have joint children or non-joint children, whether your spouse has significant creditors, whether you live in a community property or separate property state, and how the deed is written.
What about my committed intimate partner?
See a lawyer first to sort out what happens on death, disability, or a breakup. Let the lawyer help you decide how to hold title to the home.