Don’t quitclaim real estate title to your children

DEAR BOB: I am a widow, 81, whose primary asset is myhome. I have two adult children to whom I would like to leave this home wherethey grew up. However, as I come from a family of “long-livers,” I amconcerned I might outlive my assets as living expenses constantly increase.Also, my house will soon need repairs, which I am not sure how to pay for. Mytwo children suggest I deed my house to them now and they will pay for themaintenance, taxes and insurance. Do you think this is a good idea? –Irene R.

DEAR IRENE: No. If you quitclaim your house to your adultchildren now, that could prove detrimental to both you and them.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

For example, suppose you later decide it’s time for you tomove to an assisted-living center where you will enjoy excellent care and threemeals a day with no work. If you already gave away your home, where will youfind the money to pay for your care?

Another consideration is if you gift your home to your twoadult children now, they will take over your presumably low market-valueadjusted-cost basis. They would be better off inheriting the house after youpass on, thus receiving a new “stepped-up basis” of market value onthe date of your death.

If you are in reasonably good health, and expect to stay inyour home at least five years, please look into a senior-citizen-homeownerreverse mortgage. You can choose from a lump sum to pay for repairs, monthlylifetime income, a credit line (except in Texas), or any combination. To findreputable local reverse mortgage originators, on the Internet go to


DEAR BOB: We bought our home about two years ago. At thetime, our title insurance policy included a map showing we have 50-foot streetfrontage. As I came home from work every day, I thought to myself, “Ourlot isn’t 50 feet wide.” After discussing this with my wife several times,I decided to measure. It turns out our lot is only about 42 feet wide. At thesuggestion of a friend, I had a professional survey made. It turns out that ourneighbor’s fence is 6 feet on our side of the correct boundary line. When Ivery politely asked her to move her fence, after showing her the survey, shetold me, “Get lost, pal.” What recourse do I have? –Brent R.

DEAR BRENT: Because the fence is on your lot, it is yourfence. You can remove it if you so desire since it belongs to you.

However, before you do so, I suggest you consult a localreal estate attorney to discuss the possible legal consequences, such as aprescriptive easement for your neighbor.


DEAR BOB: My late husband and I were married 11 years beforehe died in 2005. His will left everything to his only child from his firstmarriage, a nasty daughter. Many times he told me, “When I die, my estategoes to my daughter but you can live in this house as long as you wish.”His estate is now in the Probate Court. The daughter has told me, “Startpacking.” Can she force me out? –Marcy W.

DEAR MARCY: Please consult a local probate attorney. Withoutwritten evidence that your late husband intended to leave you a life estate inhis house, you have nothing. I hate to be so blunt, but oral statements meannothing when real estate is involved.

The new Robert Bruss special report, “How to Obtain theBest Appraisal of Your House or Condo,” is now available for $5 fromRobert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet delivery at Questions for this columnare welcome at either address.

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

Copyright 2006 Inman News

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