How you take title to your real estate will have major implications. My recommendation is that you hold title in a way that will avoid probate, which simply takes some of your estate and gives it to attorneys, not to mention it delays the distribution of your estate to your beneficiaries. It is also good to have asset protection in mind when you buy real estate. And I recommend you seek to avoid paying unnecessary taxes, and the method of transferring title should consider capital gains taxes.
Some of the ways you may hold title to real estate and personal property include:
- As husband and wife with the right of survivorship;
- As husband and wife as joint tenants (may or may not be with the right of survivorship);
- A married person holding title in his/her separate capacity;
- As trustee of a trust (revocable or irrevocable);
- As a partner in a general or limited partnership (including a family limited partnership;
- As a corporation (“C” Corp or “S” Corp);
- As a Limited Liability Company;
- As an International Business Corporation;
- As an off shore trust; and
- Other combinations and/or hybrids, some of which actually remove ownership but not benefits (this can be good!).
How you choose to hold title is a vital part of the process of effectively planning your estate. As you can see, an important part of this process is first determining what you own, how you own it, and what you want to do. Then it takes some wisdom to design an effective plan.
Your personal estate planning should be consistent with your business planning and business succession plan, if you own your own business. Here’s a quick review of the tools for avoiding probate:
- Owning real estate as joint tenants with the right of survivorship;
- Having a payable on death account;
- Having a named beneficiary in a life insurance policy;
- Having a Revocable Living Trust; and
- Having another type of trust of the more than two dozen types.
I write more about asset protection planning in a separate article. Read more about estate planning and how to hold title to your real estate.
Chuck Marunde, J.D.
Retired Atty and Practicing Realtor