Missed the DEADline

Today we hear from Roberta in Virginia who wants to share this story with us.
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“I have a very close friend who is dying and we need some advice about what to could quickly, to avoid probate on his home, yet give my friend a feeling of security about being able to live in his own home.”

An attorney had just done something for a client of mine that I thought would be interesting. He wrote up a deed transferring title to the client’s house to his children, but retaining a life interest.
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This served three purposes*:

  • 1)It transfers title, so it avoids probate.
  • 2)The person keeps a life interest and can stay there as long as he lives.
  • 3)The property still gets the step-up in basis at date of death, since effective ownership isn’t really transferred.Roberta and her friend liked the idea. And here’s what Roberta wants to share with you:

    “First, let me say that I did all the right things. I put my usually lazy rear into gear immediately and contacted a local (Long Island) attorney that afternoon. I arranged for a friend to go to Bob’s home and locate and copy the papers on Tuesday. He put them (along with 2 checks) in the screen door of the attorney. I also arranged for the attorney and a notary to visit Bob’s home on Thursday morning to witness Bob signing the deed transfer.

    On Wednesday the attorney took care of getting the new deed drawn.

    Unfortunately, on Thursday morning I got a call from the caregiver saying that Bob had passed away earlier that morning – just hours before his appointment with the attorney.

    So, now I must go through the expensive, complicated process of probate. I’m not sure of the reactions I’ll get from his adult children when I ask for a release, but it would have been so much easier if he had lived another few days and the deed transfer had gone through.

    If there is any way for you to give this info to the general audience of your newsletter, you would be doing a mitzvah.
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    And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about life and death and other tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At TaxMama.com

    [TaxMama note: There are two lessons to note in Roberta’s story.

    1) If you’re planning to do something to express your wishes, or to have a loved one express their wishes – TODAY is a good day to do that, don’t you think?

    2) More and more, as we get older, it’s not our family who takes care of us, and looks after our needs. All too often, the elderly are relegated to strangers. Sometimes the care is in odious facilities, where staff neglect them and steal from them. Sometimes, they are fortunate to be able to get care in their own homes. But still, the turnover is high, and often, shocking acts of neglect, incompentency or even abuse come to light.
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    So when someone is fortunate enough to have a close friend give them care, attention or love, families will find themselves getting cut out of the will – and it will not be because of someone insinuating themselves into the elder’s good graces. It will be because the friend was there, often for years, providing attention, listening to them, caring about them, and helping out.

    So, if you have an elderly parent or relative that you’ve been meaning to get around to calling and helping or visiting…do you think this might be a good time?
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    *I want to thank Mel Kreger, E.A., Attorney at Law in North Hollywoord, CA for clarifying some of these issues.

    • I also want to thank Roberta for allowing me to publish this very vulnerable experience. And yes, names have been changed.
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