The average person who has been blessed with something to leave as an inheritance needs to take prudent steps to insure a smooth and uneventful transfer of wealth. It is common knowledge that the rich are getting richer and the middle class is shrinking. Holding on to and/or acquiring real estate for the average person is not easy, especially in Southern California.
It is difﬁcult for the “under forty” generation to buy a home today even with very low mortgage interest rates. Having a college education and a good job don’t count for much anymore when it comes to home ownership. I remember about back in the 1970s someone fresh out of high school could buy a house for around $18,000 in a nice Pasadena neighborhood. Those same houses now sell for between $450,000 and $500,000 and require a huge down payment! I recently read that the proportion of U.S. households that own homes has matched its lowest level in 51 years! This was a result of several factors, one of which is stagnant wages coupled with rising home prices.
I see families inheriting homes and various other types of wealth, but because of poor estate planning, the transfer was costly, time consuming and/or disruptive to the greater family unit. To help your heirs have a cost efﬁcient, minimally stressful and speedier process, here are a couple of suggestions:
- Avoid Probate: Usually a living trust is a good vehicle to transfer wealth. However, don’t try to do it yourself. Consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to draft a detailed plan that reﬂects your wishes.
- Try to avoid family drama: If everyone knows that someone is likely to cause a problem, plan to avoid it. It hurts me to hear people say “they will just have to ﬁght over it when I am gone”, because I know that means there is going to be a mess for the lawyers to clean up.
Now, more than ever, you need to do what you can to help your loved ones to be blessed by the fruits of your labor!
© 2018 by Marlene S. Cooper. All rights reserved.
(Marlene S. Cooper, a graduate of UCLA, has been an attorney for over 35 years. Her practice is focused entirely on estate planning, estate administration and probate. You may obtain further information at www.marlenecooperlaw. com, by e-mail at Marlene@ MarleneCooperLaw.com, by phone at (626) 791-7530 or toll free at (866) 702-7600. The information in this article is of a general nature and not intended as legal advice. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information in this article)