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Unfortunately, even a simple, seemingly trivial mistake can turn an otherwise careful transfer of an asset (like a house) into a horror story – and you may not even realize you’ve made a mistake until it’s too late.

One Arkansas family currently faces big consequences because of just such a mistake. Before he passed away, a man bought a house in California. His intention was to leave the house to his daughter – a laudable goal.

But although he had been very careful to put all his assets in his joint living trust with his wife, he left this asset out and died as an Arkansas resident holding title to the California house. Now the family faces a major estate legal headache. ….

The only way for the daughter to receive the house her father bought is to go through probate in California. To make matters worse, the California probate process will cost over $11,000. …. It took an entire year to resolve this situation, a disaster that could have been easily avoided if dad had taken title in the name of their living trust when he bought the house. In other words, one simple oversight created months of stress and significant additional expense.

Source: When Buying a House Becomes an Estate Planning Horror Story: One Family’s Fight 

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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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