Q: I am the successor trustee on my father’s property. He recently passed away. I am a married woman and have a 12-year old son from a previous marriage.

From my understanding, holding title with my husband as community property versus holding title in joint tenancy may be the best choice so I can leave the house to my son someday. Am I on the right track?

A: Our condolences on the recent loss of your father.

If your goal is to leave your father’s property to your son without your current husband having a claim to the home, you’ll need to sit down with an estate planning attorney.

He or she may recommend that you place your father’s property in a living trust that would transfer title to your child upon your death. You would select a trustee to administer the trust after your death, but the beneficiary/owner of the property would be your son.

If your current husband is on the title to your father’s property, he will still be a part owner of the home when you die. If he isn’t on the title to the property and you die without a will, he will inherit a part of the home. Finally, if you do have a will, he could contest the will.

The estate planning attorney can help you explore your options and plan for the future.

Published: Dec 7, 2006