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Elder Planning Isn't Just For The Elderly

Should I put my adult child’s name on the deed to my home?

Many estate planners dedicate a lot of time to avoiding probate. Given that probate can be a very long and drawn-out process, it makes sense as to why you would want to help your heirs avoid it.

One way that some Americans attempt to help their heirs avoid probate is to put the name of an adult child on the deed to their home. However, as per In-Charge, this is rarely a good idea and has the potential to cause more problems than it solves.

How does this help avoid probate?

If you put your adult child on the deed to your home, you and your child then own the home in joint tenancy. Joint tenancy provides the owners with the “right of survivorship.” The “right of survivorship” means that if one owner of the home dies, the other homeowner gets it automatically without probate.

Why is this not a good idea?

There is no “seniority” system concerning joint tenancy. This means that the moment you put your adult child on the deed to your home, they become as much of an owner of that property as you are. If you want to sell, refinance or do anything to the property, you will need the permission of your adult child. This can cause friction in some instances.

If your adult child owns the home, that means the property is subject to your adult child’s financial life. For instance, if your child marries and divorces, it is possible the courts will see your home as part of marital property. If your child is behind on taxes, the IRS could put a lien on your house. Usually, the better solution is to put your home in a living trust.

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