Is It Time to Place Your Home in a Living Trust?

With a revocable (living) trust, you can assume the role of trustee, and stay in control of your real estate during your lifetime.

Image of a person sitting on a bench in a wooded area with two children. Captioned: Is It Time to Place Your Home in a Living Trust?

After you pass away, your living trust becomes a substitute for probate. This is especially helpful if your estate would otherwise face multiple probate processes because you have real estate in several locations. It is also a helpful way to pass a home along to children when they become old enough to receive it, as the trust can direct a title change to a child at a specified age.

If you need to modify your estate plan due to children growing up, a marriage or divorce, or other significant changes in the makeup of your household, or because of your age or physical needs, you may. You can take the asset out of the trust, assign a new trustee, change your beneficiaries, or modify other terms of your trust.

For many homeowners, this is the best of both worlds in estate planning. You keep full control during your life, but seamlessly transfer the home on when you pass on, avoiding the time, expense, and stress of probate. Still, there are plenty of things to know before making this decision, as we’ll observe in this article.

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Homestead Exemptions and Living Trusts: a Look at California, Florida, and Texas

The information presented in this article is not all-encompassing, nor is it meant to be construed as professional legal advice. Because homestead exemption laws are complicated, consult a qualified attorney with questions regarding homestead exemptions and living trusts in your state.

Via Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th ed., a homestead is “[t]he house, outbuildings, and adjoining land owned and occupied by a person or family as a residence. As long as the homestead does not exceed in area or value the limits fixed by law, in most states it is exempt from forced sale for collection of a debt.” A homestead can only be designated in one jurisdiction, generally where the owner maintains permanent residence.

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How to Transfer Real Estate Into a Living Trust

Though the complexities of a living trust make these documents look significantly more complicated than they actually are, about a fifth of all Americans have living trusts—sometimes called revocable trusts or inter vivos. Living trusts don’t have to be complicated. Indeed, they’re an ideal way to protect your assets after you’re gone, while ensuring your heirs have quick access to their inheritance. Trusts are highly customizable, and you can create just about any system of disbursement in your trust creation documents. For instance, many parents leave their children a trust fund that the child can only access upon completing college or attaining the age of 30—or if the trustee deems that accessing the funds is in the child’s best interest.

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