Estate Planning: The Life Estate Deed

Beware of the traditional "Life Estate Deed." If you own real estate and want to leave that real estate to your beneficiaries there are two main things to consider: (1) taxes related to the transfer and (2) difficulty in effectuating the transfer. One easy way of transferring real estate to your beneficiaries is the Life Estate Deed.

Life Estate Deed Pros
The Life Estate Deed is a document that deeds your ownership in the real estate to your beneficiary but allows you to retain possession and control of the real estate until you pass away. This type of transfer is usually quick and inexpensive. In most states you may instruct your beneficiary not to record the deed until you pass away. This allows you to maintain your privacy and avoid tensions between beneficiaries until after you pass away. It also prohibits your beneficiary's creditors from attaching a lien to the property while you live.

Life Estate Deed Cons
The cons of a Life Estate Deed are that you will no longer have the same ownership rights to the property once the deed is recorded. For instance, you cannot sell the property without the consent of the beneficiary. Also, the deed is irrevocable once it is recorded and the transfer may be subject to a gift tax.

Based on the above, I recommend you at least look into the Enhanced Life Estate Deed. If you need help deciding which deed is right for you (and if you are reading this post you probably do).
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