Q: I have recently married and still own my own home which I am currently renting out.
In the event of my death I would like for the home to be turned over to my sister and I was wondering if you may be able to offer some advice. I would like to avoid a hassle if I should sell the property at a later date as well.
A: It sounds as though you ought to put your prior home into a revocable trust. You can name your sister as the beneficiary of the trust. Upon your death, the property would be transferred into her name.
Because the trust is “revocable,” rather than “irrevocable,” you have the ability to change your mind and dissolve the trust. Even if you set up the trust, the trust would allow you to keep all the benefits of being owner of the property while allowing you to know that the property would not have to be probated upon your death.
You should also have a will in place for any other property that you have that you did not place in the trust. The trust could designate what property should go to whom and would act in a similar fashion to a will. The one big difference is that a trust does not need to be probated and does not need court approval. If you do nothing your husband will inherit, in most cases, half of you assets.
You should consult with a good estate attorney or estate planner who can help you put the pieces together.
Best of luck in your marriage.
May 13, 2005.