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What is a til-death-do-us-part deal?

Owning a home is one of life's great privileges, but it can also become surprisingly complicated when deciding how to pass it on once you die. A surprising subculture in Southern California has sprung up around one way to deal with the issue, known as til-death-do-us-part real estate deals.

Under such an arrangement, an elderly or terminally ill person may sell a property to another party, or place it in a certain kind of trust. Under the terms that they set with the purchaser, the seller may remain a resident in the home until they pass away. While this is not a solution for everyone, it can be quite effective for some.

The til-death-do-us-part subculture in Southern California involves mostly elderly individuals who live in lavish estates, so it is not a world with which most of us interact regularly — if at all. Still, under the right circumstances, such an arrangement may be very beneficial.

If you have a home and wish to remain in it for the rest of your life, you might place it in a living trust or charitable remainder trust. The terms can be crafted so that it passes to the beneficiary upon your death, avoiding probate.

Of course, in order to claim the intended tax benefits under a charitable remainder trust, it is important for the designated charity to agree to the exchange, which may be more difficult than you'd expect. Some charities are overwhelmed with such offers, and can be quite selective.

If you want to sell your home to another party under til-death-do-us-part terms, or use a trust to arrange a similar transfer, contact an experienced California attorney who handles estate planning matters. With proper legal guidance, you can ensure that your rights will be protected, and any potential legal issues can be anticipated and dealt with ahead of time.

Source: LA Times, "Buy a home now, move in after the seller dies," Tiffany Hsu, Jan. 12, 2017

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