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Medicaid – What’s Yours Is Mine!

3 Apr

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: April 4, 2012
By Attorney George Warshaw

Third in a Medicaid series

To qualify for Medicaid a person has to meet a limited income test and a limited asset test. The threshold amounts differ for married and unmarried persons. This article focuses on your assets.

Take everything you and your spouse own, throw them into a single pot, and then remove a few approved items. The government then counts or adds up the value of what’s left over. If these countable assets add up to too much, you don’t qualify.

If you don’t qualify, you must sell and spend your “countable assets” in a permissible way.

Think of it as a two-column list. Column A is the government’s list of what you must first sell or spend before you qualify. Column B is your list of what you can keep. It’s your safe harbor.

Your home is usually protected. It’s in your column; but if you put your home into a revocable trust, it usually shifts to the government’s sell and spend Column. If you are unmarried and the equity in your home is $750,000 or more (you should be so lucky!), your home shifts to the government’s sell and spend Column.

Be careful! Always consult an Elder Care Attorney for your Medicaid situation. This article provides general information only, not legal advice.

Next week, Medicaid’s Penalty Box!

© George Warshaw 2012

George Warshaw is a real estate and estate planning attorney in Massachusetts.  He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts for individuals and families. George welcomes new clients and questions at metro@warshawlaw.com.

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Legal Advice: Laws, and court decisions interpreting them, change frequently and this article is not updated as laws change. The content and information contained in this article is neither intended as legal advice nor shall establish an attorney-client relationship.

Mom Strikes Back!

7 Mar

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: March 7, 2012
By: George Warshaw

Last week I wrote about the loving son who filed to evict his 98 year old mother from the home she previously deeded to him. The son gave up!

How can a parent protect one’s home while deeding it, with good intentions, to a child to manage or oversee?

The first caution I must mention is that planning to accomplish one thing for older parents often makes a mess of something else.

For example, you may wish to transfer the deed of a property into a trust for ease of inheritance; the transfer, however, may create an unintended Medicaid planning problem.

To safeguard a parent’s home, one should think twice (or three or four times) before deeding it to one’s children. The loss of control for the elderly Mrs. K almost cost her dearly.

There are several safeguarding techniques I like to use.

A parent can grant the home to a child or relative and reserve a “life estate”; i.e. a right to live in and use the house for one’s life; or place the property into a trust.

If using a trust, it is often valuable to require the consent of a trusted advisor (lawyer, financial planner, etc.) before a trustee can sell or mortgage the house.

More on this Next Week. © 2012 George Warshaw.

George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at metro@warshawlaw.com.

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Legal Advice: Laws, and court decisions interpreting them, change frequently and this article is not updated as laws change. The content and information contained in this article is neither intended as legal advice nor shall establish an attorney-client relationship.

Where is Grandma’s Will?

11 Jan

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: January 4, 2012
By Attorney George Warshaw

Over family gatherings during the holidays, the topic often turns to one’s parent’s or grandparent’s will.

“It’s in the safe deposit  box, I think.”

“It’s in her sock drawer with her old letters from Dad.”

“It’s not where I saw it last. OMG! Maybe the lawyer has it?”

While a safe deposit box seems like a good idea to put the will, if your name isn’t on the box you will need authority from a court to open the box.

There’s another place you can store a will that is cheap and easy.

Try the Registry of Probate. The fee varies with the county but it’s not a lot.

In our office, we hold the original will for 12 months in case someone wants to make any changes or updates. We then file the will with the Probate Court.

Since most changes or corrections are made in the first year, it’s not likely to change for several years and the will can be easily retrieved for updating.

If the person later dies, the Probate Court checks its storage records when an estate is later filed.

So if you want to find it when you need it, consider using the Probate Court instead of a safe deposit box or Grandma’s sock drawer!

© 2011 George Warshaw.

George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at metro@warshawlaw.com.

Legal Advice: Laws, and court decisions interpreting them, change frequently and this article is not updated as laws change. The content and information contained in this article is neither intended as legal advice nor shall establish an attorney-client relationship.

Before making any legal decision, consult an attorney to see how the foregoing may apply to your circumstances.

Real Estate for Christmas

30 Nov

By Attorney George Warshaw

It’s Christmas and Hanukkah time. Naturally one’s thoughts turn to gifts.

As families get together, oftentimes the discussion shifts to a parent’s home. Is it better to gift it now or inherit it later?

While the answer requires a careful discussion with a tax advisor, it’s helpful to review a key gifting rule.

When a person receives a gift of real estate, the gift is valued for tax purposes at the same cost+ value (or “tax basis” in accountant-speak) as the giver has in it.

Bought a home years ago for $200,000, put $50,000 in improvements into it, and your tax basis is likely $250,000.

Give it to your kids today and the IRS will likely value the gift as worth $250,000. It doesn’t matter if the house is worth $1,000,000, the gifting value is still $250,000.

If your kids later sell it for a million, the IRS deems they made a profit of $750,000 (sale price minus tax basis) – and they may have to pay a tax on the $750,000 gain at the time of sale. That’s painful!

Next week: Is it better to Inherit Real Estate?

Always consult your tax advisor or attorney before gifting real estate. The foregoing is not intended as legal advice. Only an in person consultation with an attorney can establish an attorney-client relationship. © 2011 George Warshaw.

George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at george.warshaw@warshawlaw.com.

Pre-nups, Co-ownership and Real Estate

24 Aug

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: August 24, 2011
Expanded content

By Attorney George Warshaw

“Honey, I love you, but would you mind signing this little piece of paper for me?”

Relationship don’t always last forever, despite the best of intentions.

If you’ve been married before, broaching the subject of a pre-nuptial or a co-ownership agreement with a partner or future spouse is more the norm than the exception. It should not be overlooked in any relationship when planning for the future, especially if one person has real estate, substantial assets, or a prospective significant inheritance.

In the pre-nup or co-ownership agreements that I do for clients, I suggest simple methods of handling real estate. One way is this (and there are several other ways):

In the event of a divorce or separation, you get back what you put in to buy the property – or your present equity if you are contributing a property that you already own. Anything beyond that (i.e. the increase in value), is split evenly or according to a fair formula that considers everyone’s contributions, past and future.

Here’s an example (it may not be right for you). If you came into a relationship owning a condo consider the equity as yours. If, going forward, both of you make equal contributions towards the mortgage, taxes, insurance and condo fees, then, in the event of a divorce, any increase in the equity over time could be recovered 50-50.

 A variation on this approach is that each person gets back what each paid in to buy the house, pay for improvements and cover core expenses like taxes, insurance and mortgage. Each person’s contributions easily translate into a percentage of investment that can be applied to any profit or loss. While this approach sounds good on paper, this requires a bit of record keeping.

 While there are many ways of dealing with real estate in a pre-nup or co-ownership agreement, what’s often most important is the relationship, and that one person doesn’t feel like they are living in the other’s house. With good planning, that can be easily addressed.

It’s important in any relationship to discuss future finances. A pre-nuptial or co-ownership agreement should just be one of the discussion points. Since “no one suit fits all,” it’s critical to see a lawyer for advice and planning. One simple detail or concern can change the advice you may get.

© 2011 George Warshaw. All rights reserved.

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George Warshaw is a real estate attorney, estate planner and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, prenuptial agreements and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at george.warshaw@warshawlaw.com.

Legal Advice: Laws, and court decisions interpreting them, change frequently and this article is not updated as laws change. The content and information contained in this article is neither intended as legal advice nor shall establish an attorney-client relationship. Before making any legal decision, consult an attorney to see how or if the foregoing may apply to your circumstances.

Where Are Interest Rates Going?

11 Aug

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: August 10, 2011

By Attorney George Warshaw

Lost in the debris of the deficit debacle and the stock market free fall is the effect on mortgage interest rates. Will they rocket upwards, stay the same or decline?

Mortgage rates rise or fall based on something. But what?

There are actually two types of mortgage loans and two types of rates: first mortgages are long-term interest rates; home equity loans are short-term monthly rates. The rate on each is established differently, and often go in different directions based on the exact same news.

When the Fed announces that it is lowering or raising rates, that immediately affects the monthly rate charged on home equity loans, not first mortgages.

First mortgage rates are determined by the longer-term bond market. I’ve heard it said that first mortgage rates follow “the 10-year Treasury” or “mortgage backed securities” instead. In other words, as prices on a specific longer-term “fixed income investment” rise or fall on Wall Street, first mortgages interest rates ultimately bounce along with it.

Confused? Since no one seems to be managing our economy right now, you are not alone. Be safe. If you can lower your first mortgage rate, do it now.

Need a recommendation for a good mortgage lender? Email me. I know several good lenders.

© 2011 George Warshaw. All Rights Reserved.

George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at george.warshaw@warshawlaw.com.

Should You Rent Your Condo?

26 Jul

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: July 20, 2011
Expanded Content

By Attorney George Warshaw

Consider, for a moment, a significant asset that you already own; one that could generate a stream of revenue well into the future – your condo. 

Rather than sell your condo to buy a new home, would you rent it instead? There are numerous possible benefits. 

The key is to get your interest rate as low as possible today while you are still living in the condominium. By doing so, you place yourself in the best position to generate future “positive cash flow”; one that will allow the rent to cover your mortgage, taxes and condo fees.

With interest rates at distress levels, now is the perfect moment to plan for the future. As an owner-occupant your rate will be lower than what would otherwise be available after you move.

Given the vagaries of the stock and bond markets, the prospective lack of a sufficient future social security payment – at an age when you might actually enjoy it, real estate is a reliable extra revenue source.

If you decide to rent your condo rather than sell it, keep one important thing in mind: if you plan to refinance shortly before you move and rent, the standard Fannie Mae mortgage form used with owner-occupied loans requires the homeowner to live in the condo for 12 months after signing.  Make your plans well in advance.

So be a smart condo owner – plan now for the future, and get the benefit of rents paying your mortgage. 

© 2011 George Warshaw. All rights reserved.

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George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and legal author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at george.warshaw@warshawlaw.com.

Legal Advice: Laws, and court decisions interpreting them, change frequently and this article is not updated as laws change. The content and information contained in this article is neither intended as legal advice nor shall establish an attorney-client relationship. Before making any legal decision, consult an attorney to see how the foregoing may apply to your circumstances.

Money When You Need It

26 Jul

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: July 13, 2011

By Attorney George Warshaw

I’ve always relied on a simple lending principle: banks will gladly loan you money when you don’t need it; but not necessarily when you really need it.

That’s why home equity loans are a key financing planning tool.

A home equity loan (often called a HELOC) is a loan against the equity in your house or condo. The interest rate is typically based on the prime rate and can float or change monthly as the prime changes. It functions like a credit card.

I spoke with William Schulz, a banker at Citibank (617-725-0104, william.h.schulz@citi.com), a specialist in home equity loans.

“Because interest is often (i.e. not always) deductible on your taxes, many people use it for their children’s college education, home remodeling, medical expenses, or to have money available should they need it,” he said.

“The process is simple. It costs the borrower nothing in fees, and nothing if you don’t use it. Once you provide the necessary paperwork, it’s usually 30 days to closing.”

Since interest paid on a credit card is often not deductible, a HELOC can be a sensible way of making major purchases – but be careful: like any mortgage loan, it has to be repaid!

© 2011 George Warshaw. All rights reserved.

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George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and legal author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at george.warshaw@warshawlaw.com.

Legal Advice: Laws, and court decisions interpreting them, change frequently and this article is not updated as laws change. The content and information contained in this article is neither intended as legal advice nor shall establish an attorney-client relationship. Before making any legal decision, consult an attorney to see how the foregoing may apply to your circumstances.

Getting Older – The New American Dream

30 Jun

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: June 29, 2011

By Attorney George Warshaw

The economy has changed the way older homeowners view their future.

Many are selling their long-time residence and renting rather than buying a
replacement home. No more mowing the lawn, paying a mortgage and maintaining an aging house. Sell the house, bank the money.

The second home market in a prolonged down economy is usually the first to collapse and the first to present opportunities. Among those who rent their primary residence, many are taking advantage of the depressed market to buy a vacation house.

I spoke about this recently with Jennifer Knight, a REMAX buyer’s broker on Martha’s Vineyard (jennifer@jennifersrealestate.com, (508) 221-2615).

“Tastes and needs have changed. Many who have sold their primary homes still need a place where they can entertain; where friends, children and family can be together, especially in an environment where there is a great deal of life, enjoyment and energy.

“But now they’re buying with cash flow in mind. They’re buying and then renting their Vineyard house for a month or two in the summer. The income from the vacation home rental covers the taxes and possibly operating costs, and they still get to host their family and friends.”

What’s happening on Martha’s Vineyard is not unique as people strive to find a balance between the life style they want or need, and the means to support it.

The prolonged so-called “jobless recovery” has caused many to change their approach to getting older and restructure their personal financial game plan. No one any longer believes that social security will be there for you when you retire.

It’s not simply a matter of the continual rise in the age when you are eligible to receive benefits – obviously they hope you are dead before the government has to pay; rather, the government has “borrowed” most of the money for its day-to-day operating expenses.

The recent debt ceiling crisis revealed that the government raided social security as a loan to be repaid in the future. Now the government needs to raise the debt ceiling to be able to borrow more money to pay its bills and repay social security.

Hmmmm! Perhaps they should consult a financial planner or better yet, I’m sure Bernie Madoff could give them some advice. At least he has experience!

© 2011 George Warshaw. All rights reserved.

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George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and legal author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at george.warshaw@warshawlaw.com.

Legal Advice: Laws, and court decisions interpreting them, change frequently and this article is not updated as laws change. The content and information contained in this article is neither intended as legal advice nor shall establish an attorney-client relationship. Before making any legal decision, consult an attorney to see how the foregoing may apply to your circumstances.

Protecting Your Home From Liens And Lawsuits

17 May

Metro®Boston, Publication Date: May 18, 2011
Expanded Content

By Attorney George Warshaw

There are several ways that you can protect your home from liens and lawsuits.

The Massachusetts Homestead Act, recently revised, protects all or part of the equity homeowners have in their house or condo from individuals or businesses suing the homeowner. The protection applies only to primary residences and not second homes or investment properties.

Homeowners automatically receive $125,000 in protection upon the recording of a deed. The statute permits homeowners to increase that protection to $500,000 by filing a declaration of homestead with the registry of deeds.

The homestead is particularly valuable in disputes with home improvement contractors. A contractor or subcontractor has the ability to file a so-called “mechanic’s lien” on your home for unpaid work – even if you dispute that work. The homestead law often prevents a contractor from enforcing that lien.

Another method of creditor protection is to place your home into a trust. When done for a legitimate purpose, such as estate planning or as a way of managing real estate, a trust may prevent or deter a creditor from acquiring a lien on your home. A creditor usually has to “break the trust” through a court proceeding in order to attach one’s home. Under the newly revised Homestead Act, one can now utilize both a trust and a homestead to maximize lien protection.

A trust is typically created by signing a “declaration of trust” – a document prepared by a lawyer that often contains creditor protection features. © 2011 George Warshaw.

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George Warshaw is a real estate attorney and author. He represents buyers and sellers of homes and condos in Massachusetts, and prepares wills, trusts, and estate plans. George welcomes new clients and questions at george.warshaw@warshawlaw.com.

Legal Advice: The content and information contained in this article is not intended as legal advice. Before making legal decisions consult an attorney to see how the foregoing may apply to your circumstances. Laws change frequently and this article is not updated as laws change.

It’s Tax Time Again – Deducting Interest

30 Apr

Metro® Boston, Publication Date: March 30, 2011

By Attorney George Warshaw 

Last week I wrote about the advantages of paying off your mortgage early. A reader asked whether that was wise since a homeowner gets a tax deduction for all or part of the mortgage interest one pays. 

I’ve known many homeowners who say they like to have a mortgage so that they can deduct the interest on their taxes. I’ve never fully understood the rationale. 

A mortgage is not an investment; it’s a debt.  A dollar of mortgage interest does not reduce your taxes by a dollar. A homeowner only gets to offset income taxes by a percentage of that dollar. 

A tax deduction is not a tax credit. A tax credit reduces your taxes dollar for dollar. A deduction merely reduces the amount of income subject to tax. Here’s an example: 

Let’s suppose you are single and your taxable income is between $34,000 and $82,400. Of every taxable dollar you earn over $34,000, 25% (or 25 cents) is paid to the IRS in income taxes. Since a dollar of mortgage interest merely reduces your income by a dollar, a dollar of interest saves you only 25 cents. 

If you don’t need a mortgage, talk to your accountant or lawyer about the best tax strategy for you. © 2011 George Warshaw. 

The foregoing is not intended as legal advice. Consult an attorney to see how or if the foregoing applies to you.

Attorney George Warshaw represents buyers and sellers of homes, condos and investment properties, prepares wills and trusts for inheriting real estate, and trusts that protect your children and pets. George welcomes new clients and questions at  george.warshaw@warshawlaw.com.

Getting Out of Debt

30 Apr

Metro® Boston, Publication Date: March 23, 2011 

By Attorney George Warshaw 

If you own a home, you’ve probably refinanced by now and lowered your interest rate to a level you never thought possible. That’s a good thing. 

Now consider this: get rid of the debt! 

There are two types of real estate investments you can make: one that makes you money and one that saves you money. They’re both equally important. 

The home you buy today will likely be worth a great deal more many years from now – though as we’ve seen, you can’t count on it being worth more on any given day. The investment you can plan is your mortgage. 

By continually paying down your mortgage, you increase your available cash equity and reduce the consequences of losing your job or becoming seriously ill or injured. 

But be careful in how you do it. I’m not a fan of a 15 year mortgage. The high monthly payment may be affordable today, but not tomorrow. Your health and your job are not guaranteed, but the monthly payment will be there for 15 full years.

So take my advice: as part of your overall investment strategy, pay off your mortgage as early as possible but don’t impoverish yourself in the way you do it. © 2011 George Warshaw. 

The foregoing is not intended as legal advice. Consult an attorney to see how or if the foregoing applies to you.

Attorney George Warshaw represents buyers and sellers of homes, condos and investment properties, prepares wills and trusts for inheriting real estate, and trusts that protect your children and pets. George welcomes new clients and questions at  george.warshaw@warshawlaw.com

Cash Now or Inherit Later?

30 Apr

Metro® Boston, Publication Date: March 9, 2011

By Attorney George Warshaw 

What would you do? 

An elderly parent owns several rental properties. He offers to sell these investments and give you your inheritance now. You could, of course, decline and simply inherit it several years from now. 

Most people, I suspect, would take the cash now – but they might be short changing themselves. Here’s why. 

Let’s say your parent sells an investment property and has to pay a capital gains tax of $100,000 on the profits realized. If you were to inherit the property instead, you might have saved the $100,000. 

When a person inherits real estate, he or she acquires it at its fair market value. Sell it at the same value and you haven’t made a profit in the eyes of the IRS. For example, if a property is worth a million when you inherit it and then you sell it at the same amount, you haven’t made a profit. You make a profit only if you sell it for more.

Be careful though: if your parent’s estate is large enough to be subject to a federal or state estate tax, it might be better to take the money today. Consult a tax accountant or attorney for your situation. © 2011 George Warshaw.

The foregoing is not intended as legal advice. Consult an attorney to see how or if the foregoing applies to you.

Attorney George Warshaw represents buyers and sellers of homes, condos and investment properties, prepares wills and trusts for inheriting real estate, and trusts that protect your children and pets. George welcomes new clients and questions at  george.warshaw@warshawlaw.com.

A Trust for Your Pet?

30 Apr

Bruiser & George

Safeguarding Your Pet’s Future – a two-part series
 Metro® Boston, Publication Date: February 9, 2011

 Metro® Boston, Publication Date: February 16, 2011

By Attorney George Warshaw

Sounds kind of silly; create a trust for your pet? 

Most people think of Leona Helmsley who set aside millions for the care of her dog, “Trouble,” but you don’t need millions to look after your pet. Actually, you don’t need very much at all. 

I created one for my rescue dog, “Bruiser” when I was confronted with two questions: “who will take care of Bruiser if I am not around, became seriously ill or incapacitated” –  and if that happened, “how do I set aside some money for Bruiser’s future care?” 

Thousands of others have done the same for their dogs, cats, birds and horses. 

A “pet trust,” as it is typically called, provides a way to structure and pay for your pet’s food, medical and veterinary care, pet insurance, housing and more. It’s the best way to ensure that your pet doesn’t wind up in a shelter, abandoned or euthanized. 

Massachusetts recently enacted a law that permits you to establish a trust for your pet’s care. 

Let’s face it; if you don’t have kids, you have to be concerned about the care of your dog, cat, bird or horse if you or your partner becomes seriously ill, injured or deceased.

 Here’s how the basic pet trust works . . .

First, decide how much money you want or need to set aside for your pet’s future care. You fund your pet’s care through your will, living trust, life insurance, retirement account or cash. If you have sufficient funds now, you can fund it while you are alive.

Second, choose two people: one is the person who will be your pet’s caretaker; the other is the person (i.e. Trustee) who will manage the money you set aside for your pet’s care. The Trustee distributes money as needed or planned.

You could choose one person to do both jobs but it can get messy if that person becomes ill, dies or isn’t good with money.

If you want to set up a trust for your pet, or simply want more information, email me at george.warshaw@warshawlaw.com. © 2011 George Warshaw.

The foregoing is not intended as legal advice. Consult an attorney to see how or if the foregoing applies to you.

Attorney George Warshaw represents buyers and sellers of homes, condos and investment properties, prepares wills and trusts for inheriting real estate, and trusts that protect your children and pets. George welcomes new clients and questions at  george.warshaw@warshawlaw.com.

Should You Gift Real Estate?

30 Apr

Metro® Boston, Publication Date: January 12, 2011 

 By Attorney George Warshaw 

Is it better to receive a gift of real estate or inherit it later? Tax wise, a gift isn’t always the best choice for the recipient. 

When a person dies one’s real estate has to be valued. Let’s say the present market value of the house is $500,000, but you, the homeowner, only paid $100,000.

Give it to your children while you are alive and they later sell it for $500,000: they may have to pay a capital gains tax on $400,000 of profit. But if they inherit and sell it for $500,000, no tax or a lesser tax may be due.

 Here’s why:

 A person who receives a gift steps into the shoes of the giver. The recipient acquires the property at the same cost or tax basis as the person who gave it, i.e. $100,000. Sell it for $500,000 and you’ve made a profit. If you inherit property, you instead acquire it at its fair market value, i.e., the same as if you paid $500,000 for it. Sell it for $500,000 and you’ve sold it for the same amount that you acquired it.

 The above information may not apply you. Always consult your tax advisor or attorney before gifting real estate. There are numerous opportunities available to owners of real estate. © 2011 George Warshaw.

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Caution. The foregoing is not intended as legal advice. Laws, and court decisions interpreting them, change frequently. This post is not updated. If you have a legal question, only an actual consultation with an attorney who has an opportunity to review all the facts can provide an answer that applies to your situation.

Attorney George Warshaw represents buyers and sellers of homes, condos and investment properties and prepares wills and trusts for inheriting real estate. George welcomes new clients and questions at  george.warshaw@warshawlaw.com.

Gifting Your Home to Your Children

30 Apr

 Metro® Boston, Publication Date: January 5, 2011

 By Attorney George Warshaw

 It’s not unusual for parents to gift their home to their children and expect to live in it afterwards; but we’ve all heard stories – all too real – about how someone’s parents were later forced to move.

How can something so simple go so badly?

Suppose you (the parent) deed your home to your son as a gift. He gets a mortgage but can’t pay it; or, your son’s creditors place a lien against all real estate standing in his name; or, your son gets divorced and now your home is one of his assets before a probate judge.

How can you protect your home? A trust is perhaps the best method, but a life estate may work almost as well.

It works like this: In the deed to your son or daughter you, the parent, simply reserve the right to live in the house the rest of your life (i.e. called a “life estate”). While your son’s creditors may still acquire a lien, the lien is subject to your right to live in the house forever. If your son wants a mortgage, your permission is needed – and, if you take my advice – be smart, don’t give it! If you do give it, you will likely be evicted in the event of a foreclosure. © 2011 George Warshaw.

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Caution. The foregoing is not intended as legal advice. Laws, and court decisions interpreting them, change frequently. This post is not updated. If you have a legal question, only an actual consultation with an attorney who has an opportunity to review all the facts can provide an answer that applies to your situation.

Attorney George Warshaw represents buyers and sellers of homes, condos and investment properties and prepares wills and trusts for inheriting real estate. George welcomes new clients and questions at  george.warshaw@warshawlaw.com.