How Can I Prevent my 55+ Apartment from Going Through Probate?

 In Probate, Revocable Trusts

Question:

I am working on estate planning and have varying opinions on how to handle my property. I moved into an affordable 55+ co-op that is owned by a non-profit.  I own a share in the corporation and have a lease and pay a monthly fee for maintenance, utilities, etc. In addition, I have a mortgage on the property. As part of the deal, I cannot make a profit on the sale but I can recoup what I have paid for the apartment. I have received varying opinions as to whether a Realty trust is needed. All my other assets are in retirement fund accounts. Is a will sufficient? How can I avoid probate on this property situation?

Response:

A will does not avoid probate. In fact, it only works by going through the probate process. In most instances it would make sense to avoid probate by adding your intended heirs’ names to the deed or to transfer the property to a revocable trust. Given that you live in a 55+ community, it’s unlikely that you can add anyone to the ownership who is not also over 55. So, a revocable trust would be the likely answer. The next question, however, is whether the co-op documents permit you transfer your interest to a revocable trust. If you can, that’s what I would recommend. If you can’t, your heirs will have to probate your estate despite your best efforts with respect to the rest of your holdings.

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