It's been said that real estate holdings comprise the largest portion of most people's estate when it comes to value. When you think about what will happen to your family home and any other pieces of real property, the decisions you make could easily either makes things easier for your loved ones or cause problems. For some ideas on making some good decisions about real estate holdings and how they fit into your estate plan, read on.
What Happens to Real Estate in Probate
If you own property, any real estate will undoubtedly be part of probate – unless you take action. Real estate not mentioned in a will or addressed by any other provisions will be decided upon by the probate court in your county. Every state has laws of succession to address who receives not only the real estate but all the assets of the estate. In most cases, the property will either go automatically to a surviving spouse or be divided between all adult children and the spouse. When the estate contains real estate, the courts have various requirements for valuing it during probate. For example, some states require two professional real estate appraisals with the value assigned being an average of the two. Real estate must be maintained during the probate period and that can last several months. You can, however, make all of the above a moot point if you take certain actions.
Creating a Special Deed
The names on a real estate deed matter. If the deed is titled a certain way, however, it avoids having to be probated. One such solution is known as joint tenancy with rights of survivorship (JTWRS). Deeds are easy to change and this is one estate-planning move that can be done in no time at all. JTWRS deeds are based on naming additional people as owners of the property. You can add your adult children's names, for example, to the deed. Right of survivorship means that survivors automatically own the property after a death. Joint tenancy means that a named party has more powers than others named on the deed and can make changes. Since the property is owned by a living person at all times, it doesn't have to be probated.
There can be issues with JTWRS deeds in the event one party has financial issues so ask your estate planning attorney for advice first. If you are interested in keeping your real estate and other estate assets away from probate court, speak to an estate-planning lawyer right away.