Estate Planning Blog Articles

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What Happens If You Inherit a Parent’s House?

Inheriting your parent’s home is a combination of sadness, relief, and worry. The last one can be avoided if the right planning is done in advance, says a recent article, “6 lessons I learned from inheriting a parent’ s house” from Bankrate. When all these feelings are combined with navigating the inheritance among siblings, things can get complicated quickly.

Many people think children automatically inherit a house when their parents die, but this isn’t true. It’s possible for children to inherit without a will, but it doesn’t always happen. Every state has its own laws about who inherits what in the absence of a will. Without a will, there will be unpleasant surprises for the family.

Parents need to talk with their children to tell them if they have a will or estate plan and where the will can be found. If there is no will, the parents must meet with an estate planning attorney as soon as possible to ensure their wishes are documented.

Wills and estate plans are never completely done. Wills need to be updated as circumstances change over time. A will created while a parent is in their 50s may not reflect the family’s status ten years later. Let’s say one sibling is disabled and receives means-tested government benefits. If the sibling is left something in the will, their benefits could be cut off. If the sibling was well ten years ago, the estate plan didn’t include a special needs trust, which would allow the family to provide for the disabled sibling without putting their benefits at risk.

The general rule for reviewing wills is to review wills every three to five years. They may not always need updating, but they definitely need reviewing.

Heirs need to put everything in writing if they have been left assets like the family home as a group. Siblings will have different lives and needs, so inheritances need to be clarified and documented. A verbal agreement is asking for trouble, even in the best of circumstances. If something happens to a sibling and their spouse has a different idea of what they want to happen to their share of the house, for instance, the way forward won’t be pleasant.

It’s best to plan how your assets should be managed after death. Would a revocable trust work better to keep the family home out of probate? If the home is placed in a revocable trust upon the death of the owner, the ownership of the home goes to a trustee, avoiding probate.

Plan ahead and expect surprises. Inheriting a home isn’t great for every family, as it comes with costs. Property taxes, maintenance, and utility costs might make home ownership a burden rather than a blessing. Parents need to think carefully about whether or not inheriting the home will work for the family.

Consulting with an estate planning attorney in advance can facilitate a discussion about how best to pass the family home onto the next generation or determine it’s not in everyone’s best interests. Leaving a legacy of careful planning is as much a gift to the family as the home itself.

Reference: Bankrate (May 3, 2024) “6 lessons I learned from inheriting a parent’ s house”

Estate Planning and Your Second Home: What Should You Know?

Many people dream of owning a cabin or a sunny beach house away from their homes. While these dreams are beautiful, buying a second home isn’t as simple as picking a new getaway. Your second home can increase your tax burden more than your first. There are also unique tax implications to keep in mind. According to Central Trust, understanding the strings attached to a second home is a must.

Will You Pay More Property Tax and Mortgage Interest?

If you already own one home, purchasing a second means doubling up on property tax bills. Your deductions for state and local taxes are also capped at $10,000. State taxes on your primary home often reach that limit on their own. As a result, a second home may increase your tax liability much more than you’d expect. While you can deduct mortgage payments on your second home, it’s limited to a combined total of $750,000 for both residences.

Does Renting Affect Your Taxes?

There are tax benefits if you plan to rent and limit personal use to 14 days or 10% of rental days. Doing so allows you to deduct utilities, maintenance and improvement costs as you would for any other rental property. However, be careful – renting to relatives at market rate still counts as personal use.

What About Capital Gains Tax?

When selling your primary residence, you can usually exclude a portion of the gains from taxes. However, this isn’t the case with a second home. Your vacation house is taxed as an investment property, which means capital gains can go up to 23.8%.

However, there’s a way to avoid paying capital gains tax on your second home. You may avoid capital gains tax if you live in it as your primary residence for at least two of the five years before you sell. Considering the average home price in America today, a lower tax rate can amount to impressive savings.

On the other hand, lost rental revenue or an increased cost of living could detract from these savings. Weigh the costs and benefits before choosing your tax management strategy.

How Important Is Record Keeping?

Maintaining solid records is crucial if you’re renting out a second home. If the IRS audits your return and you can’t provide evidence, you could face extra taxes and penalties. Keep receipts, bills and documents detailing any expenses related to the property. If you plan to avoid capital gains tax by living in the home, keep proof of your residence and travel during the time in question.

Be Real-Estate Smart with Our Help

The thrill of buying a second home should not overshadow the importance of thorough estate planning. Consult a tax professional or financial advisor to avoid costly mistakes.

Our law firm is dedicated to helping you plan your estate and minimize taxes, especially when second homes are involved. Schedule a consultation with us today to build a strategy tailored to you.

Key Takeaways

  • Double the Taxes: Owning a second home brings a second set of property tax and mortgage interest bills.
  • Rental Benefits: Renting out your vacation home could offer tax deductions.
  • Capital Gains Tax: Selling a second home could subject you to up to 23.8% capital gains tax. Living there for two of five years before selling can help avoid this.
  • Record Keeping is Essential: Proper documentation of expenses and rental income is crucial to avoid penalties in case of an IRS audit.
  • Consult an Advisor: Seek guidance from tax or estate planning professionals to create a sound plan and minimize tax implications.

Reference: Centraltrust (March 2024) “Second Homes & Tax Implications – Central Trust Company”

Inheriting a House? Navigate Your Options and Responsibilities

Inheriting a house can be a life-changing event with emotional and financial implications. Understanding your options and obligations is critical, whether you sell it, keep it, or rent it out. Insights from LendingTree show you how to make the most of your inheritance.

What’s the Legal Process of Inheriting a House?

When inheriting a house, you don’t immediately receive the title in your name. The inheritance process involves probate, where a judge reviews the will and appoints an executor to carry out the deceased’s will. The executor handles responsibilities like insurance, identifying debts or liens and paying utilities. They also distribute belongings and manage property taxes. This ensures that the estate’s assets settle any outstanding debts before you receive ownership.

What Should You Do when Inheriting a Home?

When you’re in line to inherit a home, there are five steps you should take immediately.

  1. Communicate with the Executor: Establish a clear line of communication with the executor. This will help you learn the necessary information and simplify the transfer process.
  2. Coordinate with Co-Heirs: Work with the others if you are one of several heirs. Avoid costly disputes by deciding whether to sell, keep, or rent the property.
  3. Get an Appraisal: An appraisal calculates the property’s value. This informs your decision to keep, sell, or rent the home while informing you of tax liabilities.
  4. Evaluate Debts: Identify any liens or debts tied to the property and compare them against the house’s value. Understand the financial implications and incorporate that into your decision.
  5. Seek Professional Advice: Consult estate planning attorneys, accountants and financial advisors. These professionals can clarify ownership-related problems, such as debt obligations and inheritance taxes.

What Should You Do with the House?

Moving Into an Inherited House

Moving into the inherited house can provide a new residence or vacation home. However, this option can be costly due to mortgages, taxes, repairs and insurance.

Renting Out an Inherited Home

Renting out the property can provide passive income, while keeping it in the family. Buy out other heirs or work with them to share costs and rental income.

Selling Your Newly Inherited Home

Selling the house is a straightforward way to obtain immediate cash. The proceeds can help pay off debts tied to the house, and the remaining proceeds will go to the heirs.

How Can You Finance an Inherited House?

If debts and taxes are associated with the house, that doesn’t mean you need to sell. There are many ways to finance the home and keep your inheritance.

  • Mortgage Assumption: Take over the existing mortgage if its terms are better than what you’d get with a new loan. The lender must approve the assumption.
  • New Purchase or Refinance Mortgage: You can obtain a new mortgage or refinance to put the house in your name. This option is particularly useful when the property has a reverse mortgage.
  • Cash-Out Refinance: Refinance the mortgage with a cash-out option to tap into the home’s equity to cover expenses, like buying out heirs or making repairs.
  • Investment Property Loan: Mortgage an investment property if you plan to rent the house.

Inheriting a House? Schedule a Consultation Today

Navigating the process of inheriting a house requires legal, financial and practical knowledge. You can get this knowledge by scheduling a consultation with our estate planning attorneys. We’ll listen to you and provide tailored advice about handling your inheritance.

Key Takeaways

  • Inheriting a House: The probate court oversees the inheritance process, and the executor handles legal and financial responsibilities.
  • Options: Move in, rent out, or sell the property based on financial goals and agreements with co-heirs.
  • Financing: Explore mortgage assumptions, new or refinanced mortgages and other financing options.

Reference: LendingTree (Nov. 16, 2021) “Inheriting a House? Here’s What to Expect”

The Pitfalls of Adding a Child to Your Home’s Deed

As an estate planning attorney, I’ve witnessed many parents consider adding a child to the deed of their home with good intentions. They often view this as a simple strategy to ensure that their property seamlessly passes to their children without the complexities of probate. However, this well-intentioned move can lead to numerous unexpected complications and financial burdens. This article explains why adding a child to your home’s deed might not be the optimal choice for your estate plan.

Understanding the Basics: What Does Adding a Child to a Deed Mean?

To begin, let’s clarify what it means to add a child to the deed of your home. By doing this, you are legally transferring partial ownership rights to your child. This action is commonly perceived as a method to circumvent probate. However, it is imperative to understand that it also entails relinquishing a degree of control over your asset.

Legal Implications of Co-Ownership

When you add your child to the deed, you are not just avoiding probate; you are creating a co-ownership situation. This means your child gains legal rights over the property, equal to yours. Such a shift in ownership can have significant legal ramifications, particularly if you need to make decisions about the property in the future.

Probate: Is Avoiding It Worth the Risk?

Avoiding probate is often cited as the primary reason for adding a child to a home’s deed. Probate can be a lengthy and sometimes costly process. However, it’s essential to weigh these concerns against the potential risks and challenges of joint ownership.

The Complexity of Bypassing Probate

Probate avoidance, while seemingly beneficial, does not always equate to the most advantageous approach. The process of probate also serves to clear debts and distribute assets in a legally structured manner. By bypassing this process, you might be opening the door to more complicated legal and financial issues in the future.

Gift Tax Implications: A Costly Oversight

One of the most overlooked aspects of adding a child to your deed is the gift tax implications. The IRS views this act as a gift, and if the value of the property exceeds the annual exclusion limit, it could lead to a taxable event.

Understanding Gift Tax Rules

It’s important to understand that the IRS has established specific rules regarding gifts. If the value of your property interest exceeds the gift tax exclusion limit, you might be required to file a gift tax return. This could potentially lead to a significant tax liability, an aspect often not considered in the initial decision-making process.

Loss of Control: What Happens When You’re No Longer the Sole Owner?

The loss of control over your property is a critical consideration. Once your child becomes a co-owner, they have equal say in decisions regarding the property. This change can affect your ability to sell or refinance the property and can become particularly problematic if your child encounters financial issues.

Risks of Co-Ownership

In a co-ownership scenario, if your child faces legal or financial troubles, your property could be at risk. Creditors might target your home for your child’s debts, and in the case of a child’s divorce, the property might become part of a marital settlement.

Capital Gains Tax: A Long-Term Financial Burden

A significant financial consideration is the potential capital gains tax burden for your child. When a property is inherited, it usually benefits from a step-up in basis, which can significantly reduce capital gains tax when the property is eventually sold. However, this is not the case when a child is added to a deed.

Implications of Missing Step-Up in Basis

Without the step-up in basis, if your child sells the property, they may face a substantial capital gains tax based on the difference between the selling price and the original purchase price. This tax burden can be considerably higher than if they had inherited the property.

Family Dynamics and Legal Complications

Adding a child to your deed can inadvertently lead to family disputes and legal challenges, especially if you have more than one child. This act might be perceived as favoritism or create an imbalance in the distribution of your estate, leading to potential conflicts among siblings.

Navigating Family Relationships

It’s crucial to consider the dynamic of your family and how adding one child to the deed might affect relationships between siblings. Equal distribution of assets is often a key consideration in estate planning to maintain family harmony.

Alternatives to Adding a Child to Your Home’s Deed

There are several alternatives to adding a child to your home’s deed. Creating a living trust, for instance, allows you to maintain control over your property while also ensuring a smooth transition of assets to your beneficiaries.

Benefits of a Living Trust

A living trust provides the flexibility of controlling your assets while you’re alive and ensures they are distributed according to your wishes upon your death. This approach can also offer the benefit of avoiding probate without the downsides of directly adding a child to your deed.

Seeking Professional Advice: Why It’s Crucial

Given the complexities and potential pitfalls of adding a child to your home’s deed, seeking professional legal advice is essential. An experienced estate planning attorney can help navigate these complexities and tailor a plan that aligns with your specific needs and goals.

The Role of an Estate Planning Attorney

An estate planning attorney can provide invaluable guidance in understanding the nuances of property law, tax implications and family dynamics. They can help you explore all options and devise a strategy that best protects your interests and those of your family.

While adding a child to your home’s deed might seem straightforward to manage your estate, it’s fraught with potential problems and complications. It’s vital to consider all the implications and seek professional guidance to ensure your estate plan is effective, efficient and aligned with your long-term intentions.

Key Takeaways

  • Gift Tax Risks: Be aware of potential gift tax implications when adding a child to your deed.
  • Loss of Control: Understand that you will lose some control over your property.
  • Capital Gains Tax Issues: Consider the long-term capital gains tax burdens for your child.
  • Family Dynamics: Think about the impact on family relationships and potential legal disputes.
  • Better Alternatives: Explore other options like setting up a living trust.
  • Seek Competent Guidance: Consult with an estate planning attorney for personalized advice.

Do I Pay Taxes When I Inherit?

Capital gains taxes are then calculated, so you pay taxes only on appreciation that occurs after you inherit the property. Yahoo Finance’s recent article entitled, “Do I Pay Taxes Automatically If I Inherit Property?” says there are three main types of taxes that cover inheritances:

  1. Inheritance taxes are taxes that an heir pays on the value of an estate that they inherit. There are no federal inheritance taxes. However, six states have an inheritance tax.
  2. Estate taxes are taxes paid out of the estate before anyone inherits. The estate tax has a minimum threshold, and as with all other tax brackets, the government only taxes the amount that exceeds this minimum threshold, which is $12.92 million ($25.84 million per married couple).
  3. Capital gains taxes are taxes paid on the appreciation of any assets an heir inherits through an estate. They’re only levied when you sell the assets for gain, not when you inherit.

The cash you inherit is taxed through either inheritance taxes (when applicable) or estate taxes. With inheritance taxes, you must file and pay this tax.

With an estate tax, the IRS taxes the estate directly.

Therefore, it’s uncommon for an heir to owe any taxes, including income tax, on inherited cash.

The IRS does not automatically tax any other forms of property that you might inherit. However, you’ll owe capital gains taxes if you choose to sell this property.

When you inherit property, whether real estate, securities, or almost anything else, the IRS applies a stepped-up basis to that asset. This means that for tax purposes, the base price of the asset is reset to its value on the day that you inherited it. If you inherit property and immediately sell it, you’d owe no taxes on those assets.

Two prices are involved in establishing a capital gain tax: the sale price (how much you sold the asset for) and the original cost basis (how much you bought it for).

Reference: Yahoo Finance (Aug. 27, 2023) “Do I Pay Taxes Automatically If I Inherit Property?”

Transferring Property to Heirs? Skip Top Five Mistakes

It is not difficult to ensure the smooth transfer of ownership of your property to a spouse, children, or other heirs, as long as you have an estate plan created by an experienced estate planning attorney and know what pitfalls to avoid. Most importantly, says the article “I’m a Financial Planner: Here Are 5 Mistakes You Must Avoid When Transferring Property to Heirs” from GoBankingRates, if you die without a will, your state’s intestate succession or next-of-kin laws will determine who inherits your house if yours was the only name on the deed.

Next-of-kin succession varies by state, but for the most part, the priority order is first the surviving spouse, biological and adopted children, parents, and siblings, followed by grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and extended family members.

You’ll want to know how your state treats intestate property to avoid unwanted surprises for your family. For instance, in some states, full siblings are prioritized over half-siblings, while in other states, they are treated equally.

The biggest mistake is dying without a will and an updated deed. In some states, the property will need to go through probate if the surviving heir is not in co-ownership of the house, regardless of what’s stated in the will.

The solution is simple. Add an adult child or the person you intend to be your executor to the property’s deed via a warranty or quit claim deed. This prevents the family home from going through probate and seamlessly transfers to the individual you want to handle your estate after you’ve passed. In particular, this should be done once one spouse in a joint-owning couple dies.

There are four general types of property ownership. The legal system treats them all differently. They are property with the right of survivorship, property held in a trust, property subject to a will and property for which the spouse does not have a will.

If two spouses purchase and jointly own a property, the right of survivorship dictates that the surviving spouse automatically receives the decedent’s half and becomes the sole owner. This is the simplest and easiest outcome, since it avoids probate and the need to alter the deed. However, it’s not always the case.

A surviving spouse might need to change their deed if a partner dies and the deed didn’t automatically transfer property after death. If only one spouse was on the deed, they may have to go through probate (if there was a will) to transfer the home into the surviving spouse’s name. The spouse may need to file a survivorship affidavit and a copy of the death certificate to ensure that the title is properly in their name.

Should you transfer property while you’re still living? It may solve some problems but create others. If a primary residence is transferred to an adult child and they sell it not as their primary residence, it could lead to a large capital gains tax bill. However, if the child inherits the property after your death, the heir will enjoy a stepped-up tax basis and avoids capital gains taxation.

Before taking any steps to arrange for the transfer of the home after passing, talk with the person or people to make sure they want it and the responsibilities associated with owning a home. This is especially true if there’s more than one heir with different opinions.

If children don’t get along or are in different financial positions, leaving one property for all of them to manage together could lead to family fights. Talk with them before putting your wishes into your estate plan to avoid unnecessary resentment and, in the worst case, litigation.

Reference: GoBankingRates (July 26, 2023) “I’m a Financial Planner: Here Are 5 Mistakes You Must Avoid When Transferring Property to Heirs”

How Can I Quickly Downsize?

Optimally, it’s best to spend months or years carefully purging excess belongings. However, life may get in the way, says The Independent’s recent article, “3 Steps to Downsize in a Hurry.” So let’s look at what we can do now:

  1. Collect paperwork. This includes photos, prescriptions, and perishables. You may want to box unsorted documents and photos for temporary storage in a climate-controlled area and sort through them later. Next, deal with the stuff that can’t be sold or donated, such as unneeded medications and perishable food that won’t be eaten in time. Nonperishable, unopened food items typically can be donated to a local food bank.
  2. Identify the ‘keepers’. These are possessions with a definite home. iIf someone’s moving, this includes things that will be going with them. However, if you’re clearing out after a death, keepers may consist of items destined for heirs. An executor officially charged with settling someone’s estate may be required to hire appraisers to value possessions before anything is distributed. If you have potentially valuable items, like antiques, jewelry, art, or collections, ask a personal property appraiser to help you determine what may be worth the extra effort of selling. However, hiring an appraiser can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, which may not always be practical.
  3. Decide what to do with the rest of it. If you have several rooms of furniture and household items remaining, think about an estate sale to help you dramatically downsize. Estate sales are often organized by professionals who advertise the sale, price the items, handle transactions and provide security. Estate sales agents may agree to donate or dispose of whatever doesn’t sell. They typically get 30% or more of the sale proceeds. Giving stuff away is another option. However, charities are often selective about what they’ll accept. Check their websites or call first to avoid an unnecessary trip. Some charities will send a truck to pick up approved donations.

Reference: The Independent (May 18, 2023) “3 Steps to Downsize in a Hurry”

Why Would I Put My Home in a Trust?

Putting property in a trust can make managing and distributing your assets — including your home — easier after your death. It can also have legal and tax benefits.

Bankrate’s recent article entitled, “How, and why, to put your home in a trust,” says that a real estate trust is a legal arrangement in which the owner of a home, known as the “grantor” or “settlor,” transfers ownership of the property to another entity or individual, known as the “trustee.” The trustee manages the property for the benefit of the grantor and any named beneficiaries of the grantor’s estate.

You can place your home into a trust by signing a deed that names the trustee as the property’s new owner. The deed must be recorded with the local county recording office, and then the trust is the legal owner of the property.

The home’s original owner will usually name him- or herself as the trustee, so they can maintain control of the property. However, the original owner can name someone else as the trustee. This can be helpful in case the original owner passes away. Trustees are frequently adult children of the homeowner, who will inherit the property upon the homeowner’s death.

Trusts are often used for tax, estate planning, or asset protection purposes, as — depending on the type of trust — the property can be protected from creditors and transferred directly to the beneficiaries without going through probate. Two primary types of trusts pertain to real estate: revocable and irrevocable.

Also called a living trust, a revocable trust can be changed or dissolved at any time by the grantor (creator) of the trust. A revocable trust lets a grantor control the property and make changes to the trust during their lifetime. The grantor retains the right to modify or dissolve the trust. The grantor can act as a trustee, manage the property, or appoint someone else.

A revocable/living trust states the original homeowner’s wishes upon death. When the grantor passes away, the property in the revocable trust is distributed to the grantor’s beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust agreement.

An irrevocable trust, as the name implies, is more permanent and can’t be terminated or modified by the grantor after it’s been created, unless the beneficiaries agree to the change.

Reference: Bankrate (February 21, 2023) “How, and why, to put your home in a trust”

Probate: What Is it? How Does it Work?

Many times, the word probate carries a negative connotation and it’s often positioned as something to avoid at all costs. According to a recent article “The Legal Corner: Pros and Cons of Probate” from The Huntsville Item, it’s important to understand the role probate plays in the estate planning and administration process. A comprehensive estate plan can minimize the probate process, and in some instances, it is a convincing reason to have a professionally created estate plan.

In cases where there is no will, the probate system ensures that all accounts and property are distributed in accordance with state law. There are potential benefits to having an estate go through probate in the administration of a decedent estate, including:

  • Probate provides a reliable procedure for the distribution of the deceased’s property in the absence of a will.
  • If a will exists, probate validates and enforces the wishes of the decedent.
  • Probate ensures that taxes and valid debts are paid, so beneficiaries are not left with an uncertain feeling regarding the decedent’s affairs.
  • If there were debts or unpaid bills, probate provides a means of limiting the amount of time creditors have to file claims, which may result in debt discharge, reduction, or other advantageous settlements.
  • It allows for third-party oversight by a court, potentially reducing family conflicts and in certain instances, encouraging family members to act properly.

There are also reasons to avoid probate. An experienced estate planning attorney can create an estate plan where wealth and property pass directly to beneficiaries, avoiding or minimizing all or part of the estate going through probate. These include:

  • Privacy is a big benefit of avoiding probate. Probate is a matter of public record, so certain documents, including personal and financial information, are accessible to the public. This is why wills should never have specific account names and numbers included.
  • Probate means that your estranged family member will be able to find out how the estate was distributed and read the will, even if you didn’t wish this to happen.
  • Probate can be costly. Probate requires court fees, attorney fees and executor fees, which are then deducted from the value of assets intended for loved ones.
  • Probate can be time-consuming, depending on where you live. In some jurisdictions, probate courts run smoothly. However, this is not aways the case. If the family is depending on receiving assets quickly, for example, if funds are needed in order to maintain the decedent’s house so it can be sold, probate will require them to find other resources.

An estate planning attorney will be able to review the estate and determine which assets can be transferred to heirs through other means to avoid having the entire estate go through probate. They will also be familiar with the courts in your local jurisdiction and know how long it will take, if the estate needs to go through probate.

Reference: The Huntsville Item (Feb. 12, 2023) “The Legal Corner: Pros and Cons of Probate”

Can You Inherit a House with a Mortgage?

Inheriting a home with a mortgage adds another layer of complexity to settling the estate, as explained in a recent article from Investopedia titled “Inheriting a House With a Mortgage.” The lender needs to be notified right away of the owner’s passing and the estate must continue to make regular payments on the existing mortgage. Depending on how the estate was set up, it may be a struggle to make monthly payments, especially if the estate must first go through probate.

Probate is the process where the court reviews the will to ensure that it is valid and establish the executor as the person empowered to manage the estate. The executor will need to provide the mortgage holder with a copy of the death certificate and a document affirming their role as executor to be able to speak with the lending company on behalf of the estate.

If multiple people have inherited a portion of the house, some tough decisions will need to be made. The simplest solution is often to sell the home, pay off the mortgage and split the proceeds evenly.

If some of the heirs wish to keep the home as a residence or a rental property, those who wish to keep the home need to buy out the interest of those who don’t want the house. When the house has a mortgage, the math can get complicated. An estate planning attorney will be able to map out a way forward to keep the sale of the shares from getting tangled up in the emotions of grieving family members.

If one heir has invested time and resources into the property and others have not, it gets even more complex. Family members may take the position that the person who invested so much in the property was also living there rent free, and things can get ugly. The involvement of an estate planning attorney can keep the transfer focused as a business transaction.

What if the house has a reverse mortgage? In this case, the reverse mortgage company needs to be notified. You’ll need to find out the existing balance due on the reverse mortgage. If the estate does not have the funds to pay the balance, there is the option of refinancing the property to pay off the balance due, if the wish is to keep the house. If there’s not enough equity or the heirs can’t refinance, they typically sell the house to pay off the reverse mortgage.

Can heirs take over the existing loan? Your estate planning attorney will be able to advise the family of their rights, which are different than rights of homeowners. Lenders in some circumstances may allow heirs to be added to the existing mortgage without going through a full loan application and verifying credit history, income, etc. However, if you chose to refinance or take out a home equity loan, you’ll have to go through the usual process.

Inheriting a house with a mortgage or a reverse mortgage can be a stressful process during an already difficult time. An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to guide the family through their options and help with the rest of the estate.

Reference: Investopedia (April 12, 2022) “Inheriting a House With a Mortgage”