Retitling a house deed can lead to unfortunate unintended consequences.
You own a home.
If you are like many people, this is likely your most significant asset.
As such, it should be an priority to consider in your estate planning.
According to a recent St George News article titled “Naming a child on your deed to avoid probate? Here’s why you may want to reconsider,” people often complicate their lives in the attempt to simplify this process.
Homeowners often think making an adult child a joint owner, by retitling the house deed, is a good idea.
They think this will allow their child to avoid potentially long and complicated probate proceedings before taking ownership of the home.
Although this is the best case scenario, not all situations have pleasant results.
If you make your child a joint owner, you may be opening yourself to greater liabilities and also to interpersonal conflict.
If your child ends up on the wrong end of a divorce, lawsuit, or bankruptcy, then your home could be lost to these unintended consequences.
Even if your child is not at risk when it comes to creditors or legal entanglements, your child may disagree your wishes concerning your own home while you are alive.
As a joint owner, your child can block your ability to refinance, rent, or sell your home by refusing to sign the necessary paperwork.
If you have multiple children and only place one on your house deed, the property will pass directly to the one listed on the deed.
Can you say “unintentional disinheritance”?
Your other children will have no legal rights to the property and will likely not win an contest in court.
What happens if you simply list all of your children as joint owners on the house deed?
For starters, you just increased the risk that one of them will have a divorce, lawsuit, or bankruptcy.
What if one of them predeceases you?
In that case, any children of that predeceased child are disinherited.
Because adding a child or children to your house deed can cause significant estate planning complications, you would be wise to work with an experienced estate planning attorney to determine if a trust or other legal strategy would serve you better.
Reference: St George News (Jan. 30, 2022) “Naming a child on your deed to avoid probate? Here’s why you may want to reconsider”