Can Real Estate Be Controlled By A Will?

Real estate can be very high-value property. Certain types of real estate can also create strong emotional attachments, such as family homes, family cabins or pieces of land with a strong family history. Thus, a person may care considerably what happens with their real estate when they die. Given this, among the things an individual may wonder is if they can control the after-death disposition of real estate they have through a will.

Generally, real estate is among the types of property that can be bequeathed in a will. However, there are some circumstances in which a will, no matter what terms it has in it, will not control the disposition of a given real estate interest a deceased person had. One of these is if the person held the property with another person or multiple other individuals in a joint tenancy with right of survivorship at the time of their death.

This is because, when one of the interest holders for a property held in a joint tenancy with right of survivorship dies, that person's interest in the property reverts to the remaining joint tenants, regardless of what that person’s will says.

As a note, the situation is much different when a property is held by multiple people though a tenancy in common. When a person with this sort of interest in a property dies, they generally can control the disposition of their interest in the property through a will.

Thus, how a piece of real estate is titled plays a big role regarding what effects a person's will could have on where their interest in the property goes after they die.

When a person is forming a will, it is very important for them to know what they can and cannot control with the will, so they and their family have accurate expectations regarding what impacts the will would have. This is among the things estate planning attorneys can give individuals information and guidance on.

Source: FindLaw, "Transferring Property," Accessed Feb. 16, 2016

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