Can I just add my adult kids to my deed?

Can I just add my adult kids to my deed?

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I get this question from time to time: Can I just add my adult kids to my deed so they get my home when I die? And the answer is: It depends. The only way to know if you should do this is to work with a real estate or estate planning lawyer. Not a paralegal. Not an online program. Not your cousin who does criminal law. An actual, real live lawyer who practices in the areas of real estate and/or estate planning, and can advise you on the ramifications of your choices and prepare the deed properly so that you don’t screw everything up.

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Here are some bad things that can happen when using deeds to plan your estate:

1. Creditors/divorces/bankruptcies/lawsuits.

If you deed your house to your adult child, and/or deed the house to you and your adult child jointly, the house become your child’s asset too. That means that during your lifetime, if your child has creditors, gets divorced, declares bankruptcy, or is sued, you are at risk of losing your home.

2. Medicaid qualification issues.

If you give your house to your adult child, this is considered a gift for purposes of Medicaid qualification. If you need assisted living at any point, and you’ve given any gifts in the past five years, you’ll be penalized financially by Medicaid and have to pay out of pocket during the penalty period.

3. Tax ramifications.

Depending on the value of the home and where you live, you could owe a transfer tax or a gift tax for gifting the home to your adult child.

4. Mistakes with deed wording.

Many people make mistakes in their deed wording and create a huge mess for their families. Recently, I met with a person who had prepared a deed of their home to their self, their spouse, and several of their kids. The intent was that the owners would have rights of survivorship, so they could pass on the house, but avoid probate. But, they didn’t word the deed correctly and two of the people died before the original owner did, so the result was that the remaining owners have to open three probates to be able to sell the home. This costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time.

The moral of the story is: Work with an estate planning lawyer to create the best estate plan for your family. It’s a mess you can fix before you die so they don’t have to deal with your mess later.

If you want to get started on your estate plan, read about our estate planning services and schedule an appointment.

To your family's health + happiness.

~Candice N. Aiston

P.S. Want to get started slowly but surely, naming guardians for your kids? Check out our Guardian Plan kit.


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Candice N. Aiston is an Legal Planning Attorney for Estates + Businesses in the Portland, Oregon area. She helps people to prepare for a lifetime of security, prosperity, and guidance. If you would like to receive her free reports, please visit to sign up. Follow her Facebook page for daily planning tips:

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