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Is changing a house deed a good way to avoid probate litigation?

When going through the estate planning process, it is understandable that one would want to do everything possible to help avoid the need for probate when it comes time for the estate to be administered. One way that some Michigan residents may try to prevent their estate from going through probate litigation is by adding a child or other family member to their house deeds. There are pros and cons to doing this, though.

The biggest and only real benefit of adding another person to the deed of one's home is joint property ownership. Jointly owned property is not subject to probate. Why? Because the surviving owner will become the sole owner upon the other person's death.

So, changing the deed by adding another person to it can work, but it is not without its consequences for both parties. Those whose names are added to property deeds may be left owing a great deal in taxes if they opt to sell the property. For the original owner it can cause Medicaid eligibility delays, gift tax issues and even result in the loss of one's home if the co-signer has credit issues.

The desire to avoid probate litigation is understandable. No one really wants to put family members through that during a time that is already difficult. Changing a deed or taking other actions to avoid probate can work, but it is important to understand the potential problems that accompany those decisions. An experienced attorney can help Michigan residents in creating estate plans that offer the protections necessary to possibly avoid probate. If probate cannot be avoided, however, one's surviving family members can turn to legal counsel to help them get through the process as swiftly and smoothly as possible.

Source: thebalance.com, "Avoiding Probate by Adding Your Child's Name on the Deed of the House", Julie Garber, Accessed on April 5, 2017

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