To avoid probate, estate taxes or attachment from creditors, consider placing valuable property, such as a home, into a trust for protection. Depending on your desired outcome, you may place your property in either an irrevocable trust or a revocable trust. Transferring your home to either type of trust has both advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of a Trust
If you place your home into a trust, it won't pass into your probated estate when you die. Your designated beneficiary can receive the property immediately without waiting for the costly probate procedure, and he can sell the property without obtaining approval from the court. Depending on the type of trust, it may also protect your home from estate taxes. Since a home is one of your more valuable assets, avoiding estate taxes on the home can save your estate a substantial amount of money. Some trusts also protect your home from the collection efforts of creditors.
Creating a trust requires more time and effort than including your home in a will because you must complete extensive paperwork and transfer ownership of your home to the trust. Depending on the type of trust you create, you may lose control of your home after you transfer its ownership. There are also certain tax breaks available to probated estates that aren't available to trusts, such as the ability to choose to pay taxes based on the fiscal year instead of the calendar year.
Revocable vs. Irrevocable
If you create a revocable trust, you can retain full control over its property, and you can remove your home from the trust or change the beneficiary at any time. However, revocable trusts only offer protection from probate proceedings and don't exempt the home from estate tax or attachment by creditors. Irrevocable trusts do exempt the home from estate tax and collection efforts, but you can't change the terms of the irrevocable trust after you create it.
If you and another individual own the home jointly, you don't have to place the home in a trust avoid probate when you die. However, if you don't want her to inherit your share of the home or if you are worried that she won't create a trust after you die, placing the home in a trust may be beneficial.