Bequeathing Property to Children in a Will

last-will-and-testament“I hereby give devise and bequeath all my property to my three children.”

What is wrong with this provision in your Last Will and Testament? The answer is nothing and everything. It is a common and popular provision that a lot of parents include but there are different kinds of property, including tangible, personal, and real property, each one with its own laws. In this blog post, we’re going to be discussing the issue with this provision as it pertains to real property.

How to you divide a house three ways? Siblings have different personalities, needs, and goals and each child will have unique economic and financial situations. As such, it may not be a good idea to put them all into the same pot when it comes to dividing up your assets after you die. Even when there is family harmony, I am reluctant to advise my client to give their house to two or more family members because it is the rare exception when each of the siblings unanimously agree on the best course of action when each one owns an interest in real property together. Plus, each sibling will have to pay their share of expenses, including taxes, insurance, repairs, utilities, and the ultimate question of who gets to live in the house and pay rent or sell it.

Luckily, there are ways to avoid this problem. The main issue is control and it is best looked at on a case-by-case basis. Options including creating a life estate, arranging a sale, or leaving very specific and detailed instructions in your will. Whenever possible, I always prefer a sale with the cash proceeds divided according to the wishes of the testator (including sometimes at a discount to one of the children). But in all these cases, the details laid out in your will are very important which is why it is so important you pick a personal representative who is experienced, capable, and able to carry out your wishes.

With over 30 years of experience working with clients on their wills, estates, and trusts, I can help you navigate through the process with your best interest in mind. Contact me today for a free consultation!