People who are putting together an estate plan need to address a lifetime of resources and relationships in their documents. They will generally focus on their closest loved ones and personal values when determining how to allocate certain resources.
The more valuable someone’s property is, the more important it will be to properly address it in their estate planning paperwork. For the average adult in Georgia, the home where they live will be their single most valuable personal asset. The simplest solution for real property may be including it in a will, but that arrangement does not prevent someone from selling it and may lead to tax liability.
Not only can real property trigger conflicts among beneficiaries, but it could also put someone at risk of estate taxes or their beneficiaries at risk of capital gains taxes in the future. These are some of the ways that people address real property in their estate plans effectively.
Perhaps someone has remarried, and they expect that their spouse will outlive them by years. They can sign a deed adding their spouse to the title of the property as a joint tenant with rights of survivorship. Children, grandchildren or romantic partners could also sign a deed to become joint tenants who have rights of survivorship when the original property owner dies. This arrangement bypasses probate court and largely eliminates tax concerns.
Establishing a trust
There are a variety of circumstances in which someone could use a trust to manage real property. Maybe they want their new spouse to live there but their children to inherit the home. Perhaps they want all of their grandchildren to share ownership of their property to use it as a vacation home. A trust allows someone to create more unusual and customized arrangements for the management and descent of their real property.
Arranging for its sale
Often, the immediate beneficiaries of a testator have no desire to move into the home where they live. Instead, they may prefer to receive a share of its value. Arranging to have the personal representative of an estate sell real property is a way to ensure that specific beneficiaries can share in the value of that property.
The best solution will be different in every case, and testators need to think carefully about the legacy they want to leave when putting together solutions for real property in their estate plans.