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The Heritage Law Center, LLC Blog

8 Risks to Consider Before Transferring Ownership of Your Home

POSTED ON: January 22, 2018

Parents who are older sometimes think that transferring ownership of their home to their adult children or giving them joint ownership of the house is a good idea. They think that it might the best way to protect that asset and they like that it reduces the taxable value of their estate. However, there are definitely some risks to doing it.

  • If you need MassHealth to pay for a nursing home within 5 years of the transfer, with few exceptions, the transfer of the house will disqualify you.
  • If you decide to sell the house during your lifetime, you might have income tax issues. The transfer of an interest in your home may disqualify you from the capital gains tax exclusion on the sale, and cause income tax liability when the home is sold.
  • If your child gets divorced, the house becomes an issue in the divorce since the child is one of the owners of the home.
  • If your child causes a serious accident, liens could be made against the house.
  • If you make your child a joint owner or give him a remainder interest in your home, then the value of your home becomes exposed to any financial issues that child has (e.g., bankruptcy, creditors).
  • If your child dies before you do, your child’s ownership in the home, which is part of his/her estate, would be affected by whatever estate planning the child did and any liabilities the child has remaining.
  • If you want to make improvements or even repairs to your house, your child might not agree to have them done.
  • If you decide you don’t want to reside in the house anymore, your child could refuse to transfer ownership back to you so you can sell it.

Before making any big decision about your house, make sure you get all the information you need. We can explain the risks of changing the ownership of your property or transferring it to someone else. We can also help you understand alternatives like trusts that might be a better way to protect your assets.

Contact us today at mkarr@maheritagelawcenter.com or 617.299.6976 to set up a free, confidential consultation. We’ll listen to your concerns and help you make decisions that are in your best interest.