3 Basic Rules for Property in a Will

One of the main assets that you may transfer at death is property in a will. Understanding a few of the rules can help you prepare a better will, or at least know what to ask your estate planning lawyer about. Here are just 3 rules to consider:

1 – Community Property States

A surviving spouse has the right to one-half of the property in a community property state. You cannot give away property in a will in a way that would interfere with those rights.

2 – Common Law States

The rules for property ownership in a common law state have to do with whose name is listed on the title. If the surviving spouse is not named, then that spouse is not entitled to a share of the property. You can leave all of it to a spouse, or all of it to children.

3 - Property Management for Young Children

You have the responsibility of naming a property manager for minor children in your will, because the court will. Your spouse may fulfill this role, but you have to plan for the possibility that your spouse won’t survive you, or you may be a single parent.

The rules for transferring property in a will can be complex in some states, which is why you may want to consult with an attorney.  If you don’t do it right, the probate court will make decisions for you.