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Estate planning considerations for home owners

When many Americans consider their assets, they consider “stuff” like cars, art and money in accounts. Many people across Michigan neglect estate planning when they feel their assets are too limited to require a will. However, these people often forget about one of the most crucial and complex assets: their homes.

If a house is not considered in an estate plan, descendants may have serious conflict over the property. If multiple people are inheriting the home, there could be issues over maintenance, when to sell the home or whether to sell it at all. The most important question to consider is whether children want to hold onto the property or whether they would prefer to liquidate it.

Homes are not only an asset but may also be a liability worth considering. Mortgages and home equity lines will also be inherited by beneficiaries. Maintenance costs and property taxes will also come with the asset. If not properly planned ahead, one person could end up living in the home while others pay for it, causing a serious rift in the family.

The best way to avoid conflict around this issue is to involve all beneficiaries in a transparent and thorough estate planning process. For example, if parents know that one child wants the house and one does not, they can possibly leave all the liquid assets to one and leave the house to another. Proper titling on the deed and naming of executors is also important. Michigan families trying to make plans for the succession of their home or other assets should work with a lawyer to understand their options and draft the proper paperwork.