86-year-old not sold on living trust

DEAR BOB: During the December holidays, my adult son anddaughter, along with their spouses and my three grandchildren, visited me at myhome for several days. My daughter, a big-time New York City lawyer, suggestedI “consider” putting the title to my house and two investmentproperties into a living trust to avoid probate when I pass on. I am 86, inrelatively good health, but death might not be too far away. When I explained Imight want to sell or refinance my house, or perhaps get a reverse mortgage,she really didn’t have any good reason why I should consider a living trust.However, I don’t want to burden my daughter and son after I pass on (or becomesenile) with Probate Court because I saw what happened to a good friend of minewhose estate was tied up there for about four years. What do you think ofliving trusts? –Ralph E.

DEAR RALPH: I highly recommend revocable living trusts foreveryone who owns a home or other major assets. A living trust has two primarybenefits: (1) avoidance of Probate Court costs and delays after the trustordies, and (2) management of the living-trust assets if the trustor becomesincapacitated before death.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

Perish the thought, but suppose you become incapacitatedwith Alzheimer’s disease or a severe stroke. If your major assets are in aliving trust, and they need to be sold or refinanced to provide for your care,your successor trustee (probably your daughter or son) can handle that withoutProbate Court interference. However, if your major assets are not in a livingtrust, a conservator would have to be appointed by the Probate Court to manageyour assets.

However, if all goes well and you live to 120 and die of oldage, you can continue managing your living-trust assets just as you do now,including buying and selling. When you die, your heirs will still get a newstepped-up basis to the market value on the date of your death (unless Congresschanges the tax law). More details are in my special report, “24 KeyQuestions Answered: Living Trust Secrets Reveal How to Avoid Probate Costs andDelays,” available for $5 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame,Calif., 94010, or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet deliveryat www.BobBruss.com.


DEAR BOB: We had to move out of town on short notice due toa terrific job promotion for my wife. Because I am self-employed, I can workvirtually anywhere. Her employer provided a superb relocation plan and webought a new house within a few weeks. However, it has now been about fourmonths since we listed our old home for sale with a trusted real estate agentfriend. When I was recently talking on the phone with another real estateagent, I asked for his opinion on why our home hadn’t sold. After he checkedthe local MLS (multiple listing service), he said our house isn’t even in thelocal MLS. When I confronted our listing agent, she said, “We don’t liketo put classic houses like yours in the MLS because it cheapens them.” Iwas shocked. Thankfully, our listing recently expired. Should we re-list withthe same agent or let the relocation company buy our house at a discountedprice? –Mark H.

DEAR MARK: Definitely don’t re-list with that selfish,incompetent agent. Your agent was obviously trying to keep all the salescommission for herself or at least within her brokerage firm.

In today’s “buyer’s market” in most cities, unlessyou have an ultra-exclusive house worth more than $5 million, you need thepowerful local MLS to tell buyers and their agents your house is available.Please be aware most MLS listings also appear on the www.Realtor.com Web site where prospectiveout-of-town buyers might be searching for a home just like yours.

If the discounted offer of your wife’s employer relocationfirm is acceptable, it might be easiest to accept it and get your old homesold.

The new Robert Bruss special report, “2007 Realty TaxTips-Eight Chapters of Tax Savings for Homeowners and Realty Investors,”is now available for $5 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, Calif.,94010, or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet delivery at www.BobBruss.com. Questions for this columnare welcome at www.BobBruss.com.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center

Copyright 2007 Inman News

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