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Using trusts to leave a home to heirs during your lifetime

As Ohio residents age, they likely begin to think about everything they have accumulated in life and how it might be treated after their death. While thinking about death is never an easy topic to tackle, it is an obstacle that needs to be overcome during the estate planning process. While most individuals draft an estate plan to memorialize their wishes at the end of their life and after their passing, it is also possible to use this process to exercise certain estate decisions during your lifetime.

Although the estate planning process can address a wide variety of property and asset questions and concerns, the most often fraught over question during estate planning is how best an individual should deal with his or her home. Oftentimes, an elderly individual considers their family home too be too much for them to deal with. Thus, selling and downsizing is frequently carried out.

By downsizing, individuals are frequently able to leave a larger cash pot to their heirs. However, selling a family home could ignite disputes among family member. This is especially true if the value of the home has increased over time and an heir seeks to maintain that property in the future. Because of this sometimes unique situation, downsizing isn't always available unless the house is gifted during your lifetime.

While the standard way to leave an heir a home is through a will, there are trusts available for individuals to transfer a home to an heir. These trusts can be drafted to minimize costs associated with the transfer, also helping to avoid delays in the transfer. It should also be noted that roughly 53 percent of those forming a trust for a family home did so as a mechanism to avoid family disputes.

Whether you seek to set up an irrevocable or revocable trust, it is important to understand the variety of ways a trust can be used. Additionally, one should take the time to note how a trust works and what rights you have during your lifetime. This information could be used to protect your rights during your life as well as your estate plan you created for after your passing.

Source:, "Estate Planning: Leaving a Home to Heirs While You're Still Alive," Kaya Laterman, August 25, 2017

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