For many parents, the most important thing in their lives is ensuring that their family and their children live a better life than they did. This can be achieved in a whole range of ways throughout your life, and you can even take steps for after your death.
Passing on your assets to your family through a legal will is one of the best ways to support them in their future. As the family home is usually the most valuable asset we own, it just makes sense that we pass it through our family if we can. Let’s explore some issues around property inheritance now.
Securing Inheritance through a Legal Will
It’s easy to take ownership of our property for granted, especially when we’ve been living in the same place for years. Automatically assuming your children will inherit your property is a mistake though, and you should always consider it in your will.
It’s important to state even your most seemingly obvious wishes in your will. On a similar note, you should always have your will written and updated by a legal professional. Many informal agreements, even when written out, will be considered invalid when it comes to property division.
By taking these steps you can typically ensure that your property is left to your children or other loved ones.
What Happens When You Don’t Have a Will?
When you have died intestate, or without a valid will, your assets – including land and real estate – will be distributed according to a legal formula. Referred to as intestacy, this process puts the emphasis on settling debts and funeral costs.
Usually you can prioritise which assets will be used to pay off debts but under this law you will have no control. The remaining assets will then be divided among family – prioritising children and spouses – but this formula can sometimes see property pass into unwanted hands.
Inheriting a Mortgage
Most properties are bought with borrowed money and if you haven’t paid off your mortgage before you die then this will be passed on too.
These costs can be paid from your other assets or they can also be inherited along with the property. In some circumstances, the bank may even require your mortgage to be paid out after death. While not all of these factors are in your control, a clearly defined will is instrumental in meeting your mortgage wishes wherever possible.
A Word on Co-Ownership
It is fairly common to co-own a property, and this is typically achieved in one of two situations.
- Joint Tenancy – when all tenants own a property together, rather than owning shares. In these cases, your share of the property will be owned by the surviving tenant(s) upon your death and cannot form part of your estate
- Tenants in Common – when property is owned in distinct shares – not always equal. You can include your individual share in your will and other tenants have no control of, or rights to this
If you want to secure your family’s future, talk to our wills and estates lawyers in Brisbane about writing or updating your will. Bartels Lawyers can put your wishes in clear, legally binding language and even answer any property inheritance queries you have. Call (07) 3341 2222 to organise a free initial consultation.