Estate Planning for Your Home-Simple Will, Transfer on Death Affidavit or Revocable Trust?

You own your home and want to ensure that it passes to particular loved ones upon your death but you’re not sure the best way to do it. This blog post will break down your options for you.

First, it is important to look at your deed and determine how the property is held. Often married couples have a survivorship deed. With a survivorship deed, upon the death of one spouse, the real estate transfers to the surviving spouse outside of probate. One need only record an Affidavit of Surviving Spouse with Death Certificate to effectuate the transfer. If the home is in your individual name, or you own a partial interest in the home, then read on.

You can have a Last Will and Testament prepared. In a Last Will and Testament, you can name the individual/s you wish to inherit your home, as well as your other probate property. With a Last Will and Testament, your home will need to go through the probate process.
Second, you can have a Transfer on Death Affidavit prepared. The Affidavit allows you to transfer your home outside of probate to named beneficiaries in whatever fractions you choose.

Third, you can have a Revocable Trust prepared. A Revocable Trust, also referred to as a Living Trust or Family Trust, also allows you to transfer your home to named beneficiaries in whatever fractions you choose.

Many people opt for the Transfer on Death Affidavit over the Revocable Trust because of the cost savings in the drafting of the document. However, there are clear benefits to the Revocable Trust over the Affidavit when there is more than one beneficiary.

With a Transfer on Death Affidavit, if the home is to be sold, all beneficiaries, as well as their spouses if they are married, must agree to a sale. Alternatively, with a Revocable Trust, only the trustee/s must agree on the sale. In the case of the Affidavit, if the owners cannot agree on a sale then a Partition Action would need to be initiated in Common Pleas Court for the sale of the home, a time consuming proceeding.

These same options are available for the disposition of any real estate. For more information on preparing an estate plan that meets your individual needs, contact an estate planning attorney.