Q: I am getting on in years and want to leave my home to a relative when I pass. I know I can do this in my will, but I think it might be easier to add him to the deed. I looked online, and there are so many options. What type of document should I use? — Andrea
A: Having a proper estate plan for when you pass is one of the greatest favors a person can do for the loved ones you leave behind. People who are grieving should be spared the intricacies of legal matters.
Legal documents, such as will and deeds, seem deceptively simple, especially on the internet where countless sites want to sell you do-it-yourself forms. As a practicing attorney, I spend quite a bit of time making sure that my forms are effective and current.
Every artisan should have the best tools available to ply their trade. However, while anyone can order carpentry tools of varying quality on the internet, the inexperienced and untrained will neither know which device to get nor how to use it to create custom cabinetry.
The same applies to planning your estate and transferring your property. Much to my spouse’s dismay, I am an avid do-it-yourselfer at home, but I often call in a professional when something is above my head.
I often deal with self-help forms filled out by well-meaning people who did not realize their hidden complexities. I have lost track of the number of times I have had to explain to people that the “simple” deed they recorded created tens of thousands of dollars of consequences.
Before taking any legal action concerning your homeownership, please speak to an experienced professional about the best way to do it. You need to thoroughly explain your situation so your attorney can guide you to the best solution for your individual needs.
Estate planning is not about having a good form. It is all about knowing which forms to use and how to use them for the particular outcome being sought.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.
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