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FAQ: Should I give my home to my child or add his or her name to the deed?

Maybe—but do so carefully.

One of the biggest benefits of adding a child (or children) to your deed is avoiding probate. If done correctly, at your death, your children would automatically own your home, saving them the expense and time of a probate case. Avoiding probate can also help eliminate problems with creditors after your death.

However, adding a name to your deed can have negative implications if it’s not done correctly. If you give your home away, or even add a child as a co-owner, there’s a possibility of triggering gifting problems if you ever need to apply for Medicaid benefits. Or, if you ever need to sell your home and you’ve made your child a co-owner, he or she would have to agree to the sale—so you’re giving up some of your independence.

A good compromise is an “enhanced life estate deed.” This works much like a “pay on death” beneficiary on a bank account or life insurance policy: the asset is yours, to do with as you like during your lifetime. It only passes to your child or children upon your death.