One of the most frequently-asked questions we get when we are out in the community is how to get started planning a future for real property after the owner dies….something we are calling “Property After Death.”
It is wonderful to hear that so many are thinking about the future, and things they can do while still alive that will make it easier to ensure our last wishes. Home ownership remains a great source of wealth and opportunity for American families, and passing that wealth on to the next generation is important.
Unfortunately, too many of us – for a variety of reasons – neglect to discuss our mortality with those we love. We hope this Guide will help start the process.
To add a bit of simplicity to a complicated topic, we have reduced the process to three steps:
- Know Your Status
- Develop Your Plan
- Tell Your Heirs
It is important to do an honest assessment of your ownership status, which entails looking at your home’s value, how much (if any) you owe in loans or mortgages, and then discussing with your heirs whether they want to inherit your property, and if they can afford to assume any unpaid obligations that usually must be handled before assuming ownership. If your property is deep “underwater” in regards to the mortgage, or has a great deal of unpaid property taxes or liens against it, your options may be very limited.
The next step is to develop your plan. We strongly advise utilizing the services of a competent real estate or estate planning attorney. This Guide should be a starting point, and is not offered as legal advice. As all situations are different, only an attorney can properly assess your options and make recommendations.
After you know your status and have developed your plan, it is important to tell your heirs. If you are not comfortable sharing the details of your arrangements, at least put your wishes in a safe place like a bank safety deposit box, and make sure your Executor or trusted heir knows where it is and how to obtain it.
Below is our full Property After Death Guide, which briefly covers options like the Transfer on Death Instrument, Last Will and Testament, and Trust Declarations. It is our hope that this Guide will be the start of many important conversations.
Lastly, our Office is willing and able to come to your community or church gatherings to discuss these items in more detail and answer questions. To inquire about us bringing this information to you, please call (312) 603-5936.