During your lifetime, the minutia of property deeds and changing property ownership can seem like insignificant details as long as you get to use the property. For estate planning purposes, however, the name on the deed and who owns the property matter very much. While making your estate plan, you need to check and possibly change property ownership to align with your wishes.
Why the Name on the Deed Matters
The name on the property deed affects how the property will pass on after your death. If you have just created a trust and plan to place your house or other real estate in trust, you need to change the name on the deed to reflect this change. Similarly, if you inherit property from a relative or receive it as a gift, you need to change the deed to list your name. Moreover, you should update records for payments such as property tax and utilities to list the proper ownership.
If you do not update the names on deeds, disposing of your estate after your death could get very messy. Your relatives may need to open probate to determine who inherits the property – even if you specifically give the property to someone in your will. You must own property to give it away in your will, and a deed with a different name on it could be an obstacle to showing that you owned the property at your death. The name of a deceased relative on the deed could cause probate issues for the relative’s estate as well. Your best bet to avoid these complications is to review all your deeds while you are estate planning.
Joint Tenancy and Tenants in Common
When you own property with another person in California, you own it either as joint tenants or as tenants in common. If one joint tenant dies, the other joint tenant(s) assume full ownership of the property – the deceased owner’s interest is extinguished. If a tenant in common dies, his or her heirs inherit his share in the property. This may lead to fractional ownership interests in a piece of property if a tenant in common has several heirs. Tenants in common can specify who will inherit a tenancy interest in their wills.
Spousal Property in California
California is a community property state, meaning that married people own joint assets together. Joint assets usually include assets purchased or acquired during the marriage. Each spouse also has separate property, which usually includes assets purchased individually before the marriage or received as a gift or inheritance during the marriage.
Need advice on estate planning for your property interests? Angela Klenk, Esq. and the team at Beach Cities Estate Law couple personalized attention to your estate plan with big law firm experience for a winning combination to give you peace of mind. To schedule a case evaluation, visit Beach Cities Estate Law online or call Angela’s office at (424) 400-2125.