To Sell or Not To Sell – Real Estate and Probate
If you are setting up your will for the first time or if you are reviewing your estate plan, you should take a close look at how your house will impact the value of your estate and how that value will be distributed after you die.
Because your house is likely your greatest asset, you should consult an estate planner to help you decide how to give the house to your heirs. If you are just going to pass the house along to your spouse, there will still be complicating factors (like debts and estate tax) and an estate attorney can help you protect the home.
If you are passing the house along to more than one heir, err on the side of caution and speak to an estate lawyer about what some of the options might be when you pass away. Unfortunately, not all heirs get along and putting them together as the joint-owners of your house might make for some conflict during an already-difficult time.
You can balance the value of the house along with the value of the rest of the estate (now and in the future) and create a formula so that the estate is evenly split but only one heir takes ownership of the house. In addition, you could give your heirs some options so that if one wants to keep the house, there is a first right of refusal clause to allow for that.
With complex family constructs today, you might want to give your current spouse the right to live in the house for as long as he or she is alive, but pass the house along to different heirs once your spouse dies. (This is especially common with second-marriages and step-parents.)
You have more options than you know. Your home is worth a lot of money; give it the attention in your plans that it deserves.