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Subject:  Re: House transfer: Father to Sons Date:  6/20/2006  4:18 PM
Author:  aj485 Number:  87477 of 127513

Here's the situation: Dad is passing the 85 year mark this year (mom passed away long ago). My brother and I are thinking of transferring ownership of his home which he owns almost free and clear (about $300k equity) to us as Joint Tennants with Rights of Survivorship. Dad is fine with this plan. We've contacted an estate planning professional who will draw up the title documents to be filed in the county where he lives, with a specific proviso that will allow "Dad" to live in his home as long as he wants - which is what we all want. The idea here is to minimize the hassle if he becomes incapacitated and needs to move elsewhere. We'll be able to sell or rent the home if that happens to pay for his care.

The estate planning professional has indicated that when we sell the home in the future, our cost basis will remain what our father paid for the house - which is quite a bit less that what it's worth now. I am not so sure about this and would like to hear what the Fools on this board think. If our cost basis will not be what the home is worth when we transfer the Title, we will have to re-think this idea.

The estate planning professional is correct - if Dad puts you on the title while he is still alive, his cost basis will become your cost basis. In addition (and this may not be an issue, but you need to be aware of it), he will be using up part of his lifetime exemption for the estate tax if he puts you and your brother on the title, as he will be gifting you 2/3 of the increase in the value of the house. If your estate planning professional has not explained this to you, you probably need to ask him why.

If your main goal is to be able to sell or rent out the home if Dad becomes incapacitated, a better strategy might be for Dad to give you and your brother a power of attorney to be able to do that if he does become incapacitated. This will preserve your stepped up value in the house when Dad dies, but still allows you to achieve your goal.

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