Fayetteville, NC asked in Real Estate Law for North Carolina

Q: do you need an attorney for parents to give property to children and change the names on the deed

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1 Lawyer Answer
Rachel Lea Hunter
Rachel Lea Hunter
  • Cary, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: No one "needs" an attorney. However, would you fix a plumbing leak yourself? Or do open heart surgery on yourself? If not, then I would suggest that you get an attorney who would have experience and do things correctly. Deeds are not all that expensive. Hire an attorney.

But there are all kinds of questions here. Why does the parent want to convey land now? How old is the parent? What is the parent's health like? How many children are there? If the conveyance is done for Medicaid purposes, there is a 5 year look back period measured from the time the parent applies for Medicaid. So if the kids think that mom or dad can gift the house to them and then go to a nursing home the parent is going to be ineligible for Medicaid for a period of 5 years. Also, if the parents have 4 kids and want to stick all 4 kids names on the deed, this is a recipe for future disaster.

Do not use a deed as a "poor man's" estate planning. If the parents are in good health, they need to sit down with an estate planning attorney who can review their assets and situation and assist in crafting a proper estate plan which should include a will or trust, financial power of attorney, health care power of attorney and living will. If the parents are going to need Medicaid planning, they should seek out an attorney who is experienced with elder law as well as estate planning.

If the parents own the property free and clear then they can convey the land to the children (the parents might want to retain a life estate in the land though if they intend to live on the property) and can do this via a quitclaim deed, although for tax purposes, it is more cost effective for the children to inherit the land at death because the children will get a stepped up basis; this becomes important if this is highly appreciated in value. Quitclaim deed forms can be obtained online or at office supply stores; I am not endorsing or suggesting that these forms are appropriate for your situation or that they would be a substitute for meeting with an attorney. I am just indicating to you that they exist.

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