Do you want to avoid years of litigation? Here’s how to do it. Have a solid estate plan in place. I know, I know. It seems like I’m beating your head against the wall with this, but it’s really important. Here’s why. Okay? Let’s say you’re married. This is your second marriage. You have kids from a prior marriage.
Maybe they’re grown, maybe they’re not, and you’ve got a spouse and you pass. and your spouse is now going to have a, because of the virtue that she’s your spouse and this was your primary residence, she’s going to have a life estate in the property. That’s the default, a life estate in the property with the remainder of this going to your kids who might be grownups or might not be grownups
You’ve got property that’s got now a life estate interest in it with a remainder interest in your kids, and what if they don’t agree? What if your wife wants to sell the property? She wants to move to a smaller place, and your kids don’t agree with her. What if your wife wants to rent the property or refinance the property or do anything with the property and your kids don’t agree with her?
Maybe they didn’t get along. Maybe they do get along and they still don’t agree. This is the reality of what happens when you don’t have an estate plan in place and you have a blended family, and your plan is to let them go into probate and deal with it on their own. This property is probably going to go into foreclosure because your spouse isn’t going to be able to refinance it in her name since she’s got a life estate or his name.
It’s going to have conflict because you’re going to have, individuals there who are not going to be in agreement. And the problem is you won’t really have an option as to how to fix this because partition, which is the type of lawsuit that’s available for co-owners of property, is only available if they have the same kind of interest, meaning we all have joint tenancy, we’re all tenants in common, even if it’s 30, 20, 50, whatever percent. Right? But the reality is that a life estate is a different kind of interest in the eyes of the law of a remainder. And If one has a life estate and the other ones have a remainder interest in partition court, that doesn’t work.
And there’s only a certain amount of time in the probate process, meaning forcing your family to go into the probate process in which you can elect to not have that life estate and remainder option, to have it be joint tenancy so that at least you can fight it out in partition court. But if you want to keep your family out of fighting, out of conflict and out of court, which is very, very expensive, and trust me, these types of lawsuits are not something that gets resolved in a few months.
That might get resolved, if at all, in years of litigation. So, if you want to send your family three years and years of litigation, be my guest. But if that’s not what you want, if you wanna prevent that conflict, if you wanna prevent those court costs for your family, if you wanna preserve family harmony, then it’s time for you to call our office for a family wealth planning session and get a real estate plan in place. One that works to do what it’s supposed to do, which is keeping your family out of probate, keeping things out of being pushed into a life estate, and remainder kind of thing. So, if you wanna avoid that, call our office, (813) 480-2106 or click below to schedule your call.