If I Die Before My Second Husband Can He Still Live In My House?

Protect Your Assets: Question and Answer with Patricia M. Annino, Esquire

Question:  I am a 55 year old widow with two teenage children. Next month I am marrying a 67 year old divorced man with three grown children. We plan to move into my home so that my children’s education will not be interrupted. I would like to revise my estate plan so that if I predecease my husband he can continue to live in the home but that at his death the ownership of the home will pass to my children and not to his new wife or his children. Is that easy to do?

Answer:

Easier said than done. You and your children lived in that home with their dad. Your children view that to be their family home and I understand that you want to make sure that if you predecease your husband he is not uprooted and eventually the home will pass to your children.

If your new husband has a good relationship with your children permitting them all to live in the home for a certain time frame makes some sense-he could continue to stay there with your children-at least through their graduation from school.

One way to accomplish the goal is to establish a living trust and transfer the ownership of the home to it. During your lifetime you can change the terms. At your death the trust becomes irrevocable-that means it cannot be changed, amended or revoked.

You must name a Trustee-a person or institution who will manage the home. You should consider naming your new husband as one of the Trustees. The Trustee has the authority to sell, mortgage and refinance the property. The trust should mandate that while your husband is living there he does not have to pay rent but is responsible for paying the real estate taxes, homeowners insurance and utilities.

It is prudent to have the only asset in the trust be the home-you should mandate that at your death other assets be transferred to it so that any major repairs or improvements can be paid for from that fund. If you do not have sufficient liquid assets to accomplish that consider taking out a life insurance policy and making that policy payable to the trust to provide the appropriate liquidity.

Patricia M. Annino, Esquire, is the author of the highly acclaimed book, Cracking the $$ Code: What Successful Men Know And You Don’t (Yet). Patricia is in demand nationally as a speaker for womens’ organizations on assorted topics.  Patricia works with organizations and women looking to educate and empower them to plan and work smarter with their finances and estates.  For more information visit:  www.patriciaannino.com

Comments

  1. Lauren Garner says:

    Great advice Patricia. With so many second marriages and blended families, this issue comes up a lot and is a common source of the type of litigation I see in my office. The children of the deceased spouse are at odds with the surviving spouse over the use, care and cost of maintenance of the home. Generally, families do not plan for such discord because they do not believe it will happen in their family. But it happens. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

    • Lauren – you are so right. Planning for the second marriage is the Bermuda Triangle of estate planning – creativity and thinking ahead are truly needed in those situations. Patricia

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