How can I help my chil­dren avoid pro­bate af­ter I'm gone?

Connecticut Post (Sunday) - - Transactions - By Gary M. Singer 2018 Sun Sen­tinel ( Fort Laud­erdale, Fla.) Dis­trib­uted by Tri­bune Con­tent Agency

Q: I live in a condo in a 55- plus com­mu­nity and want to help my chil­dren avoid pro­bate when I even­tu­ally pass away. What should I do? — Sh­eryle A: This is a ques­tion asked of me many years ago by my most loyal reader, my mother. I an­swered her ques­tion in per­son at the time and will now share that an­swer with you be­cause my mother passed away this week, and her fore­sight with this ques- tion, and the ac­tion we took, will spare us the ex­pense and has­sle of hav­ing to pro­bate her home.

Kindly re­mem­ber that every­one's sit­u­a­tion is unique, and a news­pa­per col­umn is not a sub­sti­tute for the ad­vice of an es­tate plan­ning at­tor­ney.

There are three good choices de­pend­ing on your sit­u­a­tion. The first choice is a Life Es­tate Deed, where prop­erty own­ers re­tain own­er­ship of the home for their life­times, and when they die, the home passes to their ini­tial choice of re­cip­i­ents with­out any fur­ther ac­tion be­ing re­quired. Sim­ply, once the “life­tenant” passes away, the cho­sen per­son ( or peo­ple), known as the “re­main­der­man,” au­to­mat­i­cally be­comes the owner. The down­side to this choice is that the cho­sen re­main­der­men are “vested,” mean­ing their in­ter­est in the prop­erty is locked in. The prop­erty owner can­not later change his or her mind, sell or even mort­gage the prop­erty with­out the re­main­der­man's con­sent.

To fix this prob­lem, an En­hanced Life Es­tate Deed was de­vel­oped. This type of deed be­came known as a “Lady Bird Deed” fol­low­ing an ar­ti­cle years ago il­lus­trat­ing its uses by a prom­i­nent Florida at­tor­ney. The name stuck, as did the doc­u­ment be­cause of its use­ful­ness. This type of own­er­ship is very sim­i­lar to a stan­dard life es­tate, but the re­main­der­man's in­ter­est in the prop­erty is not vested, mean­ing the home­owner can freely change his or her mind about who takes the prop­erty af­ter­ward, and can sell or mort­gage the prop­erty with­out any­one's con­sent. This flex­i­bil­ity can also be a down­side, since some se­niors are sus­cep­ti­ble to in­flu­ence and may be co­erced into mak­ing changes that are not in their best in­ter­est.

The fi­nal choice is to set up a liv­ing trust. This choice pro­vides the most flex­i­bil­ity and is best for peo­ple with more as­sets to plan for. While trusts are al­most all up­side, the neg­a­tive is they are sig­nif­i­cantly more ex­pen­sive and com­pli­cated to set up than ei­ther type of life es­tate deed.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.