Gifting Land and Keeping it in Our Children and Grandchildren’s Hands

Gifting Family Property

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

Question: Our family and extended family has always lived close to each other. We own quite a few lots of land that homes could be built on. We would like to give one to each of our children but we would like to make sure that it remains in the hands of our children and grandchildren-not their spouses. What do you suggest?


Whose name is on the title to the house is one of the most emotional issues in any marriage.  My home is my castle is part of the American dream. If you give the lot directly to your child and that child maintains title in his or her name alone there is power imbalance in the marriage.

It can have deep consequences. It also has practical problems-who will be on the mortgage? Should both spouses pay the payment? Would it be fair to ask for your daughter to ask her husband to pay part or the entire mortgage from his earning but not give him an equity stake in the house? If the lot is in joint name then without a contrary written agreement should the couple divorce your ex son-in-law would in all likelihood receive one-half of the equity of the lot.

A possible solution is to ask your daughter to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement prior to marriage that mandates that if there is a divorce the value of the lot at the date of the marriage comes back to her first and any appreciation is split 50/50. An alternative is to lend, not gift the lot to both your daughter and son-in-law and have them sign a promissory note and recorded mortgage. Should they divorce both of them owe you the money and only the net equity in the property would be split.

Patricia Annino is a sought after speaker and nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning.  She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about.  Annino recently announced the release of an updated version of her successful book, Women and Money: A Practical Guide to Estate Planning to include recent changes in the laws that govern how we protect our assets during and beyond our lifetime.  Annino’s book is an exhortation, resource and trusted companion for women in all facets of life.  To purchase the book visit: or for more about Annino, visit: