Lisa Galvan Law, PLLC Blog

Friday, June 19, 2015

Using Estate Planning to Protect Your Home

With the economic recession behind us, housing prices are at their highest level ever in San Antonio. The average home in the city is now valued at $202,500, marking the first time it has ever moved beyond $200,000.

With higher home values can come greater concern over the smooth transfer of this valuable asset. If you are concerned about how your home will be managed upon your own death or incapacity, now is a good time to create a comprehensive estate plan.

Read on to learn more about how estate planning can protect your most valuable asset.

Why Do Homeowners Need an Estate Plan?

If you are like most middle class families, your home is your most valuable asset. By creating a plan, you are eliminating the potential for conflict and uncertainties surrounding its ownership after you are gone. Homes without proper estate plans can be tied up in probate for years, during which time property taxes can pile up and structural elements can fall into disrepair. Having a plan makes the sale or transfer of your home much more efficient, protecting your most valued asset and ensuring that your descendants obtain maximum value from it.

What are the Available Options?

Homeowners have a number of options to prevent a home from going into probate. These include:

  • Joint tenancy: Some homeowners will enter into joint tenancy arrangements with family members as an estate planning measure. This avoids probate by simply giving a portion of a home to family members or loved ones during your lifetime. It has many drawbacks, however. Gifts of over $14,000 may require you to pay gift taxes. Additionally, offering an ownership stake in your home to another individual leaves you vulnerable to the risk of bankruptcies and divorce proceedings.

  • Living trust: For most families, creating a living trust is preferable to joint tenancy arrangements. Using this estate planning tool, you transfer your home title to a living trust that you control during your lifetime, as long as you have the mental capacity to do so. You also create a plan to transfer the trust to your descendants in the event of death or incapacity, giving you the ability to control how this asset is managed and distributed.

While these are two of the primary estate planning tools at your disposal, it is important to speak to an attorney about the best path forward in your case.

How Can You Pick the Right Strategy?

The details of your estate plan will be heavily dependent upon your individual circumstances. The size of your family, whether or not you have a living spouse, and any loved ones you would also like to include can all factor in. It can all get complicated quickly, but you don’t have to do it alone. A qualified estate planning lawyer can analyze your situation and guide you to the best solutions to protect your home and other important assets.

Lisa Galvan Law is trusted by families throughout San Antonio to provide a lifetime of estate planning services. To schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney, contact us online or call 210-820-2667.

Lisa Galvan Law, PLLC is located in San Antonio, Texas and serves the following surrounding counties: Bexar County, Medina County, Comal County, Wilson County, Atacosa County, and Kendall County.

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