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Fatula
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What to do with a home in estate planning

Many California residents have a will that specifies how their assets will be distributed after their deaths. As individuals near retirement age, the issue of how a person's home will be handled often arises. Financial experts report that since a home is likely the most expensive asset someone owns, how to deal with it is a major consideration in estate planning.

A question that must be addressed is whether a person should sell a home and leave more cash in an estate? Another possibility is to deed property to heirs now to avoid any controversy in the future. However, then someone would have to secure suitable housing.

AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons, reports that most people would rather remain in their homes and gift to someone after they pass away. This can be accomplished by a simple will. However, it may be more advantageous to consider creating a trust. Trusts are recommended if heirs are in different socioeconomic situations or if disagreements over handling assets are anticipated.

A 2016 survey by a wealth management organization reported that the majority of trusts were formed by people who wanted to avoid family arguments over estates. Trusts can help heirs avoid probate and associated potential costs. In addition, the distribution of assets can occur more quickly when a trust is in place.

Estate planning is an important process for California residents. An estate attorney can help clients evaluate their situations and develop a plan that specifically addresses their needs. A knowledgeable lawyer can recommend what documents should be included in an estate plan that will protect someone's assets now and for the future.

Source: The New York Times, "Estate Planning: Leaving a Home to Heirs While You're Still Alive", Kaya Laterman, Aug. 25, 2017

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