Getting into the housing market is difficult – especially for Millennials, for whom the staggering house prices and deep debt loads straight out of school have become the norm. You may be a parent who has worked hard to enter the market yourself, and now watch your son or daughter struggle to get onto the first step of the unattainably high property ladder. Of course, your instinct may be to help them reach this goal – or even give them your own home altogether to keep it in the family.
There are a few ways you can pass your home to your children without selling it to them, though that is also an option if you need to make some of the money back. More importantly, there are some things you should know before you decide to make that decision.
Revocable Living Trust
One way you can transfer home ownership to your kids is through a revocable living trust (RLT), which gives you the option to reverse the terms if you change your mind. These can be great for establishing flexibility, avoiding disputes after your death, and protecting the privacy of everyone involved. However, these can be prohibitively expensive for some people and they require a lot of maintenance after they’re set up.
Transferring your property deed from yourself to your child is a good way to get a written confirmation on the change in ownership. The legality behind these transfers means that you will need legal expertise to set it up yourself or pay a professional real estate attorney to take the stress off your shoulders.
Bequeathing Your Property
If you still need your home over the course of your life, you can bequeath your property so that your property will be distributed after your death. Ensure that your child will be able to keep up with property taxes and other costs without any help before signing it off or else this transfer will be more of a burden than an asset.
Know Before you Escrow
Understanding what your options are is a great place to start but trying to take on the monumental task of filing the legal paperwork yourself is certainly not advisable. Susannah Roth, a partner at the Toronto-based legal services company, O’Sullivan Estate Lawyers, explained that there are many nuances to estate planning that can go unnoticed for people outside of the profession: “There are different kinds of legal and property tax implications that people need to be aware of.” Parents who mean well could create unintended consequences.
If you’re expecting to be slammed by a stack of dense legal documents when you visit an estate planning attorney – don’t be alarmed. “We really want our clients to understand the different types of planning and how to achieve their goals,” Roth says.
This would include a discussion of future plans for their assets and for their children. Like with any major life decision, it’s important to speak with a trusted and competent professional before making any impulsive decisions.