California Does Not Lead the Nation with Help for Seniors with the Family Home

Life estateThe San Diego Times-Union characterizes California’s new ‘transfer on death’ deeds as a way for seniors to save thousands of dollars and make the transfer of their homes easy on their loved ones.

Wait a minute, is it as promised?

On July 1, 2013, the Virginia General Assembly passed the same legislation that California’s legislators just passed which they claimed was “a new, non-probate method for conveying real property upon death through a revocable transfer upon death deed."  

Far from new, this method of transferring your home to your loved ones is modeled on the Uniform Law Commissions’ “Uniform Real Property Transfer on Death Act” enacted by 14 states. Like most ideas however, no matter how well intentioned, is not a one size fits all strategy. The California bill, authored by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, was touted as “a simple way for people to transfer their home (or one-to-four-unit investment properties) upon their death – without having to pay for a living trust or having it all sorted out in probate court.” That would be true if probate were all we needed to worry about when it comes to estate planning but unfortunately, it’s just not that simple.

The law is intended to benefit most those senior citizens of modest means whose estate consists primarily (or even exclusively) of the family home. What the bill overlooks is long term care planning for these seniors.  After all, saving the legacy you’ve worked a life time to acquire is not good public policy.  The problem for a senior with a need for long term care is that the deed is not effective until you die. The Medicaid requirement is that you must first spend-down the equity in your home before you qualify for that program.  There is a better estate plan for those who want to successfully transfer their home to their loved ones without loss of equity due to a long term care need while avoiding probate and eliminating capital gains taxes for the inheritor.  Call us for your complimentary elder law consultation at 757-259-0707.

Reference: San Diego Times-Union (January 18, 2016) "State ushers in refreshingly modest law"


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We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
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Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.