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Fire at will:

File this under “Estate Planning Horror Stories”: Lots of things can go wrong when parents transfer real property to children outright instead of in trust. Here is just a quick example from a colleague posting on an attorney listserv (see these frequently, going to start collecting them):

Prospective client (“PC”) transferred her home into her daughter’s name for some reason that I’m not quite clear on. In any event, daughter was killed unexpectedly. Daughter was survived by mother (PC) and father (who are divorced). Father died approx’ly one month after daughter.

PC wants to transfer property back into her own name. Is probate really the ONLY way for this mother to get her property out of her late daughter’s name? I feel terrible at the thought that she will have to pay tens of thousands of dollars in costs and perhaps lose half to her ex-husband’s estate, just to transfer her own home back to herself.

I offer a free two-hour design meeting to anyone who fills out my questionnaire. My engagement rate is close to 100%. But sometimes people are just hell bent on doing the planning on their own. Stuff like this happens, and it’s very expensive to clean up the mess.  To learn more, go to and sign up for live training or take our self-paced online courses. All training is free of charge.

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David R. Duringer, JD, LL.M, is a concealed firearm instructor and tax lawyer specializing in business and estate planning. He is managing shareholder at Protective Law Corporation, serving Southern California from its Laguna Hills (Orange County) headquarters and a satellite office in Coronado (San Diego County).

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