Property Ownership & Estate Planning
Dec 21, 2023
When you first purchased your home, you may have not put much thought into how to title the property. In the grand scheme of things, it probably seemed like an insignificant detail. However, did you know that how property is titled determines how the property is handled at the time of your death? Estate planning is important for everyone, but especially important for homeowners. Let’s discuss the common ways to title property in Wisconsin and how it can impact your estate plan.
If you were single and purchased your property alone, then your property is most likely titled as “sole ownership”. The property will become part of your probate estate and will be distributed according to your will at the time of your death. If you do not have a will, then your estate will be distributed according to the Wisconsin intestacy laws.
Tenants In Common
If you purchased your property with two or more owners, then your property may be titled as “tenants in common”. In Wisconsin, if the type of ownership is not listed on the deed, tenancy in common is the default ownership when property is held jointly between non-married owners. This type of ownership offers the ability for owners to own a specific, unequal share. At the time of your death, your share becomes part of your probate estate and will be distributed according to your will instead of going to the other owner(s). If you do not have a will, then your estate will be distributed according to the Wisconsin intestacy laws.
If you were married and purchased the property together, then your property is most likely titled as “joint tenants”, unless listed otherwise. In Wisconsin, if the type of ownership is not listed on the deed, joint tenancy is the default ownership for married couples. Joint tenants are two or more owners who own equal shares of the property. At the time of your death, your share will transfer to the surviving owner. It will not become part of your probate estate. Please note, even though the property does not need to go through the probate process, there is a form that will need to be recorded showing the transfer of your interest to the other surviving owner(s). In Wisconsin, the form is called Termination of Decedent’s Interest.
As you can see, how your property is titled determines whether it becomes a probate asset in your estate. Regardless of how your property is currently titled, there are several options available in Wisconsin to help your property avoid probate. With proper estate planning you can be confident in how your property will be handled at the time of your death. We recommend meeting with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure you choose the best option for your situation.
No one knows for sure what the future holds, but it is wise to be prepared. At Pedersen Law Office, LLC we understand how important proper estate planning is and that is why we offer free consultations. We will sit down with you to understand your specific circumstances, needs and goals and figure out what is right for you and your family. Our law office serves the communities of Appleton, Kimberly, Kaukauna, Menasha, Neenah, Oshkosh, Green Bay, De Pere and their surrounding areas.