What Happens to Your Real Estate When You Die?

How Real Property passes at the owner’s death

For most people, their home is the largest asset in their estate.  The way a principle residence passes after death depends on how it is titled during the owner’s lifetime.  The following are several ways that real property passes at death:

real estate and wills

  • If you are married and own the property as tenancy by the entirety with your spouse, the property passes to your spouse automatically at your death.
  • For unmarried couples, a similar type of home ownership is joint tenancy with rights of survivorship. If one partner dies, the other partner automatically inherits the house.
  • A third type of joint home ownership is tenancy in common. Both parties own a share of the property. If one party dies, the share of the deceased owner passes under that person’s Will or goes to the deceased person’s heirs if he dies without a Will.
  • A fourth type of home ownership is ownership by a trust. If title to a residence has been transferred to a trust during the owner’s life, the trust owns the real property and the terms of the trust determine what happens at the trust grantor’s death.
  • If you are the sole owner of your real property, your Will states who inherits your real property. If you die without a Will, the property passes to your closest heirs as determined by Tennessee law.

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Estate Planning for Those Under 35

If you are under 35, chances are you have given very little thought to your own estate planning.  Most people in the group known as “Millennials” are involved in work and volunteering.  They’ve not had to think about the need for a Will.  Sometimes it takes the unexpected death of a family member or friend to bring the reality of our mortality into sharp focus.  The arrival of a baby can awaken us to the need to plan for the care of this new life if the unthinkable happens.  [Read more…]

Estate planning for parents with young children

Estate planning for parents of minor children

Estate planning is not just for the wealthy, and it is not just for the elderly. Parents of young children need to plan for the care of their children if both parents should pass away while the children are still minors.

1- Planning for the financial care of your minor children.

Without a Will: If a parent dies without a Will, state law provides for a portion of the parent’s property to pass to their surviving children at the parent’s death. If property is inherited outright by minor children, a judge would appoint a responsible person, the Guardian of the estate, to care for the inherited property. A court-supervised guardianship can be expensive and burdensome and requires annual reports to the court of all expenditures. Another downside: the assets in the guardianship become the property of the minor when the child reaches age 18.  [Read more…]