During the home buying process, you worked with a lot of individuals: your realtor, the seller’s realtor, the title company, the loan officer, and the home inspector. Now that you have finalized the purchase of your house, there is one more expert you need to call: your estate planning attorney.
Aligning Your Ownership with Existing Estate Planning
First, your attorney can help you review the new documents associated with your home purchase in conjunction with your existing estate plan to ensure that everything aligns and works towards your overall estate planning objectives. If your existing estate plans include a trust that owns all of your assets, it is crucial that your new home is titled in the name of the trust and not in your name individually (or jointly if married).
General Review/Update of Your Estate Plan
Since you have engaged in a new life changing event, now is the perfect time to review your existing plan. This is a great opportunity to make sure that the individuals you have appointed in the crucial roles of guardian, executor, agent, or trustee are still able to carry out those duties when the need arises. With the passage of time, these individuals may have moved away, died, or otherwise undergone a life change themselves that makes them a less than desirable candidate to act on your behalf.
While you are reviewing your estate plans, it is also important that you review the dispositive language. Do you still want to have your assets divided the same way? Have the needs of your beneficiaries changed over the years? To ensure that you are protecting and providing for your beneficiaries, you need to make sure that the provisions are set up for the best individualized protection.
Lastly, if the purchase of your new home is in a different state, you will definitely want to visit an estate planning attorney. By changing states, the documents you previously have prepared may not adequately protect you and your family. Each state has unique laws regarding trusts and estates, you will need to make sure that any documents you are currently relying on are enforceable in your new state. Unenforceable or not-optimized documents can be just as bad as having no estate planning documents at all.