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Leaving a home to children

A reader asks: “We are thinking of changing our title to include our children. If we were to do this, in the event that my husband or myself died, and the other were to remarry and live in our home, what percentage of the value of the house could possibly be given to the new party in the event the marriage did not work, or the remaining partner died, and the home was sold?”

QUESTION:

My husband and I are in our 70s. We have two children and a clear title on our home. The home value is about $600,000. We are self-managed retirees.

We are thinking of changing our title to include our children. We would like to have it changed to a one-third value for my husband and myself, and a one-third value for each of the children.

If we were to do this, in the event that my husband or myself died, and the other were to remarry and live in our home, what percentage of the value of the house could possibly be given to the new party in the event the marriage did not work, or the remaining partner died, and the home was sold?

We have worked very hard in our lives and we would like as much of the house value to be left with our children.

ANSWER:

There are two basic issues here to be taken into consideration. If one spouse died and the other remarried, the percentage the new partner would be entitled to could only be determined at the time of death or marriage failure. This would depend on the time they were married, dependency because of age, and any contribution made by the new partner, if any. This also would apply to the children if they (the children) remarried. There have been cases in the past where parents have included children on their title and further down the track the children have demanded the house be sold so that they could get their share.

A marriage breakdown of the child could instigate all sorts of problems here. There would need to be a specific agreement drawn up to limit this.

You should consult a solicitor before transferring an interest in your house to your children. You need to consider the cost involved, including stamp duty. You also need to be sure that you understand the results of a transfer.

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