Many people own property with family, such as a vacation home with other siblings. Most people own these properties in their own name, needlessly subjecting themselves to probate at the death of any owner. The perfect solution is something called a Nominee Trust (also often referred to as a Realty Trust). This is a very special trust that allows the beneficiaries not the trustee to be in control of the Trust. The ownership share would be reflected in the Trust. If you own half now, you would still own half of the trust, which would own the house. But, all owners would now enjoy the probate avoidance of a Trust. Better yet, you and your siblings will all share in the cost of the trust, making it a great value. You can even name a beneficiary of your share if you pass.
A Nominee Trust is also the perfect vehicle if you don’t want anyone to know you own the property. A third party could be the trustee so they are on the public record, not you. But again, that trustee has absolutely no control over the property without your direction.
If probate avoidance or privacy is a concern, consider a Nominee/Realty Trust
– Kathryn Bedell, Esq.
If you own real estate that you have inherited and you don’t have title insurance, consider it. People instinctively think that since it’s been in the family for years, there are no title issues. Unfortunately, properties owned for generations are by far the very properties that do have title issues. These properties have usually not been mortgaged, so the titles have not been vetted. Title insurance is an insured statement of the condition of your title or ownership rights to the property. It guarantees you own the property. Don’t get to the closing and find out you have title defects, which can cause major issues.
Major changes to the Probate Code that affect all Maine Real Estate – Starting September 1, 2019, Maine will allow a real estate deed, known as a Transfer on Death Deed, to designate beneficiaries, the same way you would on a bank or stock account. Florida residents are already familiar with this deed and call it a “Ladybird” deed. The advantage of the new deed is that the beneficiaries will have absolutely no rights to the real estate and the owner can change the deed at any time before you die, without notice to the beneficiary.
A Transfer on Death Deed will minimize the need for Trusts, especially out-of-state residents with Maine real estate who want to very simply by-pass Maine probate when they die. It will also potentially eliminate probate for Maine residents who have beneficiary designations for all their assets (life insurance, IRA, bank accounts) except the house. Call today to see if this new deed is right for you!
-Kathryn Bedell, Esq.