Asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Tax Law for Virginia

Q: I am the trustee of mother’s estate & beneficiary of her house. Upon death, can I transfer it to my son directly?

She has dementia. I want my son to have the house instead of me. Would he be able to inherit it at the stepped up value?

I was hoping I could just change the title from my mother’s name to his.

1 Lawyer Answer
James H. Wilson Jr.
James H. Wilson Jr.
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Glen Allen, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: The phrasing of your question is a bit confusing. An estate does not usually have a trustee, the personal representative of an estate is either an executor or an administrator. It is possible for a pour over will to automatically transfer assets into an existing trust, such that the trustee of that trust would then administer the assets of the decedent's estate. A will might include a testamentary trust, usually for a minor, with a named trustee. In any event, a trustee is bound by the provisions of the trust agreement, which limit his or her authority to deal with the trust assets.

A beneficiary to an estate may be able to disclaim his or her interest, with the effect of allowing his or her heirs to take in his or her place. In effect, the disclaimer could cause the assets to skip over a child off the decedent to the grandchild[ren] of the decedent.

In Virginia, real property not in trust is either disposed of by will or drops into the name of the heirs at law upon the death of the decedent owner.

All these matters should be discussed with an experienced Virginia wills and estate planning attorney.

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