Wondering, should you put your house in your children’s name? It’s a complex decision with far-reaching implications for taxes, estate planning, and control over your property. In the following article, you’ll discover the good, the bad, and the crucial details needed to determine the best path for your family’s legacy, when considering if you should put your house in your children’s name. This article is not intended to be legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship. Contact our offices for a consultation at Steslicki and Ghannam PLC to discuss the best path forward for your situation.

Key Takeaways

  • Transferring a house to children can avoid probate but involves legal complexities, potential loss of control, financial responsibilities for the children, and credit risks.
  • Imparting property to children can have significant tax implications, such as capital gains tax on sale, loss of primary residence tax benefits, but inheritance can offer tax benefits like the stepped-up basis rule.
  • Alternatives to direct property transfer, including establishing a trust, gifting, or selling the house, have specific benefits and drawbacks, and consulting an estate planning attorney is essential for personalized advice.

Understanding the Implications of Transferring Property to Your Children

A home is more than just a physical structure; it’s a treasure trove of memories and a significant financial asset. Therefore, the decision to transfer this valuable asset to your children requires careful consideration. This complex real estate transaction carries significant legal and financial implications that can greatly affect you and your heirs.

In estate planning, assigning property to your children may circumvent probate, but the process is more complicated than merely signing a new deed. The process involves a series of steps, each with its own implications. Let’s delve deeper into three critical areas: legal ownership and control, financial responsibility, and tax consequences.

Legal Ownership and Control

The legal aspects of a property transfer are as complex as they are crucial. When you transfer real estate to your children, you’re not just handing over a set of keys; you’re transferring legal ownership. According to law, there are several methods to accomplish this, such as gifting the property or transferring equity. Moreover, the deed and joint tenancy can also be utilized to transfer ownership.

Nevertheless, losing control over the property is a frequent worry. What happens if you need to sell or rent the property later? If they are married or have children, and they pass away, their spouse or child now owns the home- what then? Is regaining control possible? There are very great risks to this method of probate avoidance.

Financial Responsibility and Creditors

Another important factor to consider is the financial obligations associated with property ownership. When your child’s name appears on the property deed, they instantly inherit a host of financial obligations, including property taxes, utilities, and other related expenses. These obligations could potentially lead to financial trouble if not properly planned for, especially when children’s names are involved in the ownership.

But the financial implications don’t stop there. Creditors can legally pursue the property if it’s titled in the child’s name. This means your child’s debts could potentially lead to the sale of the property to fulfill creditor claims. Furthermore, in the event of their own divorce, the property could be subject to division. These potential risks underscore the need for careful planning and informed decision-making when considering a property transfer to children.

Tax Consequences

Potential tax consequences are another major concern when contemplating transferring property to children. For instance, if your child decides to sell the property, they may have to pay capital gains tax on the appreciated value. This tax implication can impose a substantial financial burden, which is why it’s crucial to consider tax-related aspects before making a transfer. Furthermore, if they own another home, there may be the loss of any tax benefits for a principal residence. The transfer could also result in a new tax assessment depending on how it is done.

Furthermore there is an update to inheriting it later. The stepped-up basis rule may provide a tax benefit when children inherit property. Under this rule, the tax basis is adjusted upwards to the value of the property at the time of inheritance, potentially saving your children from hefty capital gains tax should they decide to sell the property in the future. If they already own it prior to your passing, they will not get the step up in basis.

Estate Planning and Inheritance

Estate planning can be a complicated endeavor, full of legal and financial complexities. However, assigning property to your children can streamline this task and help avoid probate, ensuring a smoother transition of assets after your passing. In fact, if children are designated as joint tenants and are alive at the time of the owner’s passing, they would inherit the property without the need for probate, following the same example as other estate planning strategies.

But what about taxes? When transferring property to children, they may be liable for capital gains taxes on the sale of the property. However, strategies such as placing the property into an irrevocable trust can potentially mitigate tax implications and take advantage of the stepped up tax basis. It’s all about finding the right balance and strategy that aligns with your specific situation and goals.

Medicaid Estate Recovery Protection

For many individuals, the prospect of losing their home to cover Medicaid expenses is a genuine fear. The Medicaid Estate Recovery Program enables states to reclaim funds from the estate of a deceased Medicaid enrollee, posing a risk for numerous families. However, transferring property to children can create problems, as there is a lookback period. If it appears you transferred the property in an attempt to protect it, it can actually make your chances of qualifying less, as opposed to improving them.

However, by transferring property to an irrevocable trust, you can safeguard it from being utilized to settle Medicaid obligations after your passing. It’s important to note that direct transfers to children can be problematic, as Medicaid can seize assets to recover costs. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider the timing of the transfer and its potential impacts on Medicaid eligibility. Transferring a property to try to qualify for Medicaid is also a very risky proposition.

Lawsuit and Asset Protection

Assigning property to children isn’t only about preserving your legacy; it can also strategically protect assets from legal proceedings. When property is transferred to your children, it becomes their asset and is subject to any creditors they may have, including lawsuits, garnishments, and divorce proceedings. It could also disqualify them from benefits they could receive.

However, it’s important to remember that this strategy comes with its own set of potential risks and compromises. For instance, the financial vulnerabilities for your children, tax implications, and even familial conflicts. Therefore, it’s essential to balance the benefits with the potential risks and consider alternative asset protection strategies, including other assets.

Alternatives to Putting Your House in Your Children’s Name

While it may appear that assigning property to your children is a clear-cut solution, it may not always suit your unique situation. Fortunately, some alternatives can provide a similar level of security and peace of mind without the potential pitfalls associated with directly transferring property.

Establishing a trust, gifting property, and selling your home to your children are three notable alternatives. Each of these options has its own benefits and considerations, offering a more flexible and potentially beneficial method for transferring your property.

Establishing a Trust

One viable alternative to putting your house in your children’s name is establishing a trust. A trust is a legal arrangement where you transfer assets into the trust, and the children assume ownership of the trust property after your passing. This approach allows you to retain control over the assets while also providing a protective layer and keeping all tax consequences as low as possible.

It is recommended to explore all potential tax consequences and consider strategies to minimize them before making a decision.

Gifting Property

Gifting property is another alternative to consider. However, keep in mind that when a home is gifted, parents may forfeit control of the asset unless the children agree to sell the home and return the proceeds. Therefore, it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons of this approach before deciding.

Selling Your Home to Your Children

Selling your home to your children can provide a structured way to transfer property however, you will lose all control as mentioned in paragraphs above. This method also necessitates careful evaluation of various elements, like the potential complications it could bring to your child’s future sales and the consequences for estate and capital gains taxes.

Furthermore, the sale of your home to your children can potentially impact your eligibility for Medicaid. The proceeds from the sale may influence your asset threshold and could result in disqualification if your assets surpass Medicaid limits. Therefore, financial and legal advice is essential when considering this option.

Potential Pitfalls and Risks of Transferring Property to Children

Pitfalls & Risks of Transferring Property to Children

While the advantages of assigning property to your children can be attractive, it’s equally essential to consider the potential downsides and hazards. These can range from loss of control and ownership to financial troubles and tax issues.

For example, assigning property to children can lead to a loss of control and ownership due to uncertainty about their reactions to your needs and wishes. Furthermore, if your child sells the property, they may be liable for capital gains taxes on the appreciated value.

Loss of Control and Ownership

One of the main risks of transferring property to your children is the potential loss of control and ownership. Once you transfer the property, you forfeit all control, and the children become the sole owners. This can be particularly concerning if you need to sell or rent the property in the future for financial reasons.

In addition, the possibility of creditors placing a lien on the property and potential loss of control over the property’s use and management are other concerns that underscore the need for careful planning and informed decision-making when considering a property transfer to children.

Financial Troubles and Creditors

Financial troubles and creditors can become a major concern when transferring property to children. For instance, creditors may claim outstanding payments if the estate goes through probate. And if the property is inherited, creditors may have the ability to place a lien on the property or even access the inheritor’s bank account.

Moreover, transferring property to children can impact their financial situation and credit score. It can:

  • Increase their property taxes
  • Affect their liquid savings
  • Carry tax implications
  • Affect their ability to secure loans with favorable terms.

Tax Issues and Capital Gains

Tax issues and capital gain can arise when transferring property to children, depending on the method used. For instance, your children may owe capital gains tax upon the eventual sale of the property. The tax rate for capital gains can be as high as 15%.

However, parents can use strategies to reduce tax liabilities when transferring property to their children. For example, by transferring the property to children through a trust, you can potentially reduce or avoid estate taxes.

Consult an Estate Planning Attorney for Personalized Advice

Consult an Estate Planning Attorney

Considering the complexity and potential repercussions of assigning property to your children, consulting an estate planning attorney for personalized advice is always recommended. These professionals can help navigate the intricate web of legal and financial intricacies, ensuring a seamless and beneficial property transfer.

An estate planning attorney, who is also well-versed in elder law, can offer tailored guidance based on your particular goals, concerns, and the complexities of your assets. They can develop a personalized estate plan that effectively facilitates your preferences for property transfer, whether it is through a will, trust, or other legal methods.


In conclusion, transferring property to your children is a significant decision that entails a multitude of considerations. It’s not just about signing over a deed; it’s about understanding the implications, weighing the benefits against potential risks, and finding the best strategy that aligns with your specific situation and goals.

Whether you decide to transfer the property directly, establish a trust, gift the property, or sell your home to your children, it’s essential to consult with an estate planning attorney to ensure the process aligns with your estate planning objectives and provides the most benefit for both you and your children.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why parents put assets in their children’s names?

Parents put assets in their children’s names to help with managing finances and as a form of do-it-yourself estate planning.

What are the disadvantages of adding a name to a deed?

Adding a name to a deed may trigger gift tax implications and impact the tax basis in the property, potentially leading to higher capital gains tax upon sale. It also results in a loss of control over the property from the person who owned the home.

Can my parents sell me their house for $1?

Selling your parents’ house for $1 could be considered a gift by the IRS, and they may be subject to gift taxes based on the difference between the fair market value and the selling price. It’s important to consider the potential tax implications before proceeding.

What are the implications of transferring property to children?

Transferring property to children can have both legal and financial implications. These include issues related to ownership and control, as well as potential financial burdens such as mortgage payments, creditor exposure, and tax implications.

What are alternatives to putting my house in my children’s name?

Consider establishing a trust, gifting the property, or selling your home to your children as alternatives to putting your house in their names. Each option has its implications and benefits.