Tag Archives: house

Do you need an Estate Plan? Take this Quiz to Find Out!

Many of our blogs discuss why you need an estate plan and most people will tell you that they intend to create one …. eventually. In fact, it is common for people to believe they don’t need an estate plan until later in life. Below is a short quiz that will help you determine whether you should be estate planning now instead of later.

1. Are you a homeowner?

If you own any type of real property, you have at least one valuable assets that requires estate planning. Your home cannot be divided among your beneficiaries and selling it may take months, which means your loved ones will have to wait to receive their share of the proceeds. Even if you have a “small estate,” because it is real estate, probate becomes necessary. For larger estates, there could be estate tax issues. Lastly, if you are married, you will want to ensure that your spouse can continue living in the home after you are gone.

2. Do you have minor children?

If you have any children under the age of 18 years, it is extremely important that you appoint a guardian if something should happen to you and your spouse. Completing the proper documentation will ensure that your children are not placed into foster care or become wards of the state if there are loved ones willing to care for them. You should also consider appointing a trustee for them to hold any financial assets until they reach a suitable age.

3. Do you want to decide when your heirs will receive their inheritance?

If you do not have a comprehensive estate plan in place, your property will most likely go through several processes. Insurance, IRA’s, 401(k)’s or similar assets may be distributed by beneficiary designations. Other assets may go through the probate process before they can be distributed. Probate can be complicated and expensive if you have not planned for it. But worse, you may have assets going in several different directions in an uncoordinated way, without any control by you. With an estate plan, you have the ability to coordinate where everything goes, and you decide the timing and circumstances under which your heirs will receive their inheritance. For example, you may want your children to graduate from college or reach the age of 25 years (or older) before their inheritance is distributed to them.

4. Do you want to leave medical or end-of-life instructions?

If you are adamant that you do not want to be kept alive by machines or have your estate diminished by this type of end-of-life care, you need to have an advanced healthcare directive that sets forth your instructions if you are in a vegetative state, have a terminal illness or are dying.

The above four questions are simple examples of why estate planning is necessary for everyone, regardless of the size of their estate. Estate planning impacts a variety of areas in your life, so it is important to stop procrastinating and take action now. Let us help you determine what kind of planning will benefit you and your loved ones.

The Astill Law Office has provided high quality legal services for over 30 years. We specialize in wills, trusts, estate planning, and asset protection. If you have any questions about creating a Trust, Will, or estate planning in general, contact The Astill Law Office at 801-438-8698.


Why You shouldn’t Transfer Your House to your Child

If your home is your primary asset, you may believe you can accomplish your estate planning goals by transferring ownership of your house to your child while you are still alive. Although this can keep your house from going through the probate process, it can also create significant issues such as:

  • Transferring your house while you are alive means that you will lose any property discounts that you are eligible for (many states offer discounts to persons over 65) which will result in an increase in your property taxes. Some states also charge a fee for every transfer. Not understanding this can be very costly to you. Depending on your financial situation, this could get you into tax trouble.
  • If your child has had financial struggles, transferring your house to him or her could put it into jeopardy. Once title to the home is in your child’s name, it becomes vulnerable to your child’s creditors and other legal troubles. What if your child files bankruptcy? Your house is their asset!
  • Although you may have a strong relationship with your child, nobody knows the future. If you were to have a falling out, your child will not be legally obligated to allow you to continue to live in your home without a lawsuit.
  • If you have more than one child, transferring title of your home to only one child can cause sibling rivalry and disputes. However, putting all of your children’s names on the title to your home can also cause fighting if they can’t agree on what to do with it. Having numerous names on the title can also make the home vulnerable to all of their creditors.

The transfer of title to your children is subject to the federal gift tax. While it may be exempt from payment of a tax (depending on the size of your estate), it still requires filing of a gift tax return.

You could lose the step-up in basis under the tax laws which means your children pay income tax on the future sale of your home.

Your creditors can still set aside the transfer to your children. The Fraudulent Conveyance Act protects creditors where you transfer assets without adequate consideration.

It is important to remember that even if you transfer your home out of your name, there are other assets in your estate that may still make a probate action necessary. If you hope to avoid probate, lower tax liability, and save you and your family money, contact us for an appointment. Creating an effective estate plan does not have to be expensive – let us help! To be perfectly honest, we almost never recommend transfer of a house to your children as a strategy to avoid probate or taxes. There are better and more effective tools.

The Astill Law Office has provided high quality legal services for over 30 years. We specialize in wills, trusts, estate planning, and asset protection. If you have any questions about creating a Trust, Will, or estate planning in general, contact The Astill Law Office at 801-438-8698.

Should I Transfer My Home While I’m Alive?

For many Utah residents (and for most people in general), their most significant asset is their home. In an effort to avoid the probate process, or save the money required to create an estate plan, many people transfer title to their house while they are still alive. In most instances, a parent transfers title to their home to an adult child, believing this is an inexpensive and simple answer. Sadly, this can lead to serious complications for you and your loved ones.

Two important factors to consider are that by transferring title to your home, (i) you lose your homestead exemption for protection from creditors, and you are no longer entitled to a reduced property tax because it is not an owner occupied primary residence. This can cost you thousands of dollars.

Another concern is that you lose control over the rights to your home. If you should have a dispute with your child, you could potentially lose the ability to live in your own house! Your child (or children) owns the house, and without providing more, he or she does not have a legal obligation to let you continue living there (unless otherwise provided by contract). Additionally, you have no control over what can be done to your property, such as renovations, but also with your home being used as collateral for loans. What happens more often is a child has creditor problems of their own and their judgment creditors then have liens on your home!

Finally, you should also consider whether transferring title to a child will cause problems at your death amongf your other children. The child that owns your home has no legal obligation to share it with his or her siblings. What happens at death when that child faces the other children and simply states that he doesn’t intend to share?

To remedy this, some people put the names of all of their children on a deed to their home. However, if you put all of your children’s names on the title to your house, it can make the documentation very complicated and it leaves the home more vulnerable to attack by creditors and even more complicated. For example, what happens if one of your children dies before you do? Who then owns their share of the house? And even if your children cooperate with you, will your inlaws or grandchildren? What happens if you want to sell the home and use the proceeds to buy a smaller home or for your support in old age? One holdout can jam up the works and you can’t sell your house! You can see that this creates serious complications and is never a recommended plan.

More often than not, the arrangement that sounded so simple becomes seriously complicated and costly and results in litigation in your estate. It is far more costly than preparing a sound estate plan. And the worst thing is, it doesn’t carry out your wishes.

Creating an estate plan is a safer, more efficient and less costly means for transferring all of your important assets. If you want to avoid the probate process, you can create a revocable living trust. This type of trust provides you with flexibility to decide when and how your estate is distributed. A trust can actually save your family a significant amount of money, time and disputes in the long run and you can be assured that your intent is carried out under all circumstances.

The Astill Law Office has provided high quality legal services for over 30 years. We specialize in wills, trusts, estate planning, and asset protection. If you have any questions about creating a Trust, Will, or estate planning in general, contact The Astill Law Office at 801-438-8698.