Should I give the kids my house in my estate planning? Houses make for terrible wealth transfer vehicles. Bequeathing a house can mean passing along financial burdens, red tape, home maintenance responsibilities, potential family conflict and housing market volatility, says Kiplinger’s recent article, “Your Home Would Be a Terrible Inheritance for Your Kids.”
Communication about plans is critical. A study from Money & Family found that 68% of homeowners plan to leave a home or property to heirs. However, 56% haven’t told them about their plans. That will surprise the recipients who may or may not want or be able to service an inherited home.
Suppose you bequeath a house to an heir or heirs. In that case, they’ll have to make an immediate plan for home maintenance, mortgage payments (if necessary), utilities, property taxes, repairs and homeowners’ insurance. Zillow says this can amount to as much as $9,400 annually, not including mortgage payments.
The psychology of the home. Owners often have deep emotional attachments to their homes. Therefore, when people gift their homes to children and heirs, they’re not just giving an asset — they’re endowing them with all the good memories that were made on that property. Emotional connections to the home can be nearly as powerful as a strong attachment to a living being.
Beneficiaries may struggle to make practical choices about the inherited property because of the home’s sentimental value. This emotional aspect can cloud judgment and hinder the effective management and allocation of assets.
The financial burdens and family conflicts for beneficiaries. Inheriting a home entails a range of financial responsibilities that can quickly add up.
Property taxes, insurance premiums, ongoing maintenance costs and unexpected repairs can strain beneficiaries’ financial resources dramatically. If beneficiaries already have their own homes, inheriting an additional property can exacerbate financial burdens and potentially hinder their own financial goals, retirement plans and aspirations. The passing of a family member can also sometimes lead to conflicts among heirs, potentially exacerbating existing fractures in relationships among siblings and other family members.
According to a 2018 study, nearly half (44%) of respondents saw family strife during an estate settlement. Disagreements can cause tension, strain relationships and even result in lengthy legal battles.
Beck & Lenox recommends you discuss your interest in bequeathing your home to your children. You may find that while one is interested, the other one is not. Some can shoulder the additional expense, others cannot. Some may appreciate being able to sell the home, in order to better afford the one they want. Make sure your plans will benefit them, not cause problems.
Our attorneys can discuss pros and cons with you, so that you can have a productive conversation with your children. Should I give the kids my house in my estate planning should be a question all interested parties discuss. To begin, schedule a free phone consultation with one of our attorneys by clicking here.