ESTATE PLANNING: Catching up on readers' questions

2014-05-31T11:22:00Z ESTATE PLANNING: Catching up on readers' questionsChristopher W. Yugo Times Business Columnist
May 31, 2014 11:22 am  • 

Q: We just moved back to Indiana. Our wills were drawn up in Minnesota. Are our wills valid or should we have new ones drawn up?

A: If your wills were executed legally in Minnesota and they were valid there, they should be valid in Indiana. However, I still suggest you sit down with an attorney for a review.

Each state has its own rules and what may be valid in Minnesota may not be enforceable in Indiana. For example, some states allow interrorem clauses. An interrorem clause essentially legally threatens a person who challenges the will. The threat of disinheritance is the most common threat. Indiana won't enforce interrorem clauses. If your will contains one, it won't invalidate the will but you may be relying on something that isn't enforceable.

An interrorem clause is only one example. There could be any number of things that maybe acceptable in Minnesota but won't fly in Indiana. Since you're unlikely to know what will or won't work in Indiana, sit down for a review.

Q: My father passed away eight years ago. While looking at my mother's real estate tax bill, I realized my father's name is still on the title. How do I get my father's name removed from the title so it is only in my mother's name.

A: I'm going to assume that both names are on the title. If the home is currently only in your father's name, you may need to open a probate estate to clear title.

Assuming that the home is still in both names, the county needs to be notified that your father has passed and his name needs to be removed.

Sometimes people simply record a copy of the death certificate to remove the decedent's name. Personally, I'm not a fan of recording death certificates. A death certificate doesn't contain the affirmations that are necessary to clear the title.

I prefer to use a surviving spouse or surviving joint tenant affidavit. By using an affidavit, you can make affirmations under oath your father has passed away and your mother now owns a fee simple interest in the home. You can also make affirmations regarding the payment of taxes and the marital status of the joint owners at the time of death.

The affirmations contained in a carefully drafted affidavit clears the title and makes it easier to insure the title at a later date. Without the necessary affirmations, title could be clouded or at the very least make it more difficult to obtain title insurance down the road.

Opinions are solely the writer's. Christopher W. Yugo is a Crown Point attorney. Address questions to Yugo in care of The Times, 601 W. 45th Ave., Munster, IN, 46321 or to Yugo's information is meant to be general in nature. Specific legal, tax, or insurance questions should be referred to your attorney, accountant or estate-planning specialist.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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