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Keep real estate out of probate

Developing an estate plan with the required documents may be an important legacy that a New York resident can leave to his or her heirs. Often, the largest asset in someone's estate is real estate. If real estate is the only asset to be passed on, several actions should keep the owner's estate out of probate.

One option is to set up a living trust and to place that property in the trust. This helps to keep the owner in control of the property as long as she or he is alive. If a couple owns the property, it may be titled to show joint tenancy with right of survivorship. With this title in place, upon the death of one spouse, full title of the asset passes to the other. A grant deed can be used to change the title if ownership is not already documented in this way.

Alternatively, title to the real estate can be set up to show a spouse has survivorship rights. In a non-community property state, the terminology is 'tenancy by the entirety." In one of the eight community property states, the property can be titled in both spouses names, with acknowledgement of the community property requirement and survivorship.

Other considerations may come into play when title is changed on a piece of real estate. Furthermore, the possibility of inheritance taxes and gift taxes may be a factor that a real property owner may want to consider while planning how an estate will be executed. To help ensure that an estate is handled and distributed as desired, many people value the input from an attorney when they are estate planning.

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