George called my office this afternoon. His sister, Billie had been appointed as the Personal Representative of his mother’s estate a week ago. According to him Mom had a “simple will” leaving everything to her three children equally. He found out by word of mouth that Mom had “put Betty’s name on the title” (Betty is his other sister). When I asked him what that meant he didn’t know. He didn’t know if it was a Beneficiary Deed, or if she had recorded a Deed transferring all of a part of the property to Betty prior to death. Further, when I explained that there were several possibilities and that I really couldn’t answer without more information he got rather upset with me. Hopefully he will either let me assist him, or he’ll find out and call me back. The answers are likely readily available, but I couldn’t even give him an educated guess.
Mom likely made a mistake. Regardless of the type of transfer it will override her will, and apparently disrupt her Estate Plan. George will probably be mad, and left at Betty’s mercy in terms of carrying out Mom’s wishes.
It is rarely a good idea to add a child’s name to the property ownership. It creates problems with the ultimate distribution, and depending on how it’s done, may create tax issues and liability problems. Trust based plans normally are the better choice.
Feel free to contact us with questions.