When it comes to thinking about planning your estate, there is a false perception that only the rich and famous have substantial assets to protect. Due to this viewpoint, every day individuals may believe that they do not have much to secure in the event of their deaths, “just the house.”
However, the truth is that your house IS a lot, regardless of its current value, and regardless of whether that is truly all you own or not. In reality, the house is often the biggest and most valuable asset in your estate. Many individuals work hard to be able to even afford to purchase a home and work even harder to make sure the home is not lost by ensuring payments are timely made, including standard obligations such as the mortgage and property taxes.
The perception that the house is not much limits the importance of what we have and what we can do to protect our loved ones when we are no longer here. It also limits our beliefs about the true worth of our possessions, their current and future values, and how we can maximize their use and enjoyment during our own lifetimes, while securing such an important benefit for future generations.
Continue reading below to learn why the house is often the most important asset to protect, and why its value should not be underestimated.
The Home Serves as the Family Stronghold.
Before we even consider the economic value of the property, the family home is often the house that has been owned and passed down from generation to generation. It can be a place of community and fellowship in the neighborhood, a source of security and comfort, and a place to always return to when times are tough. Often, the family home is owned entirely, free of mortgage debt or other adverse interest in the property, which is particularly important because it gives maximum flexibility for the use and enjoyment of the property. Such freedom is irreplaceable. The value of losing something like that is priceless, and not something that should be lost due to carelessness or taking its importance for granted.
The House is Often the Greatest Source of Wealth
Of course, the economic value of owning property cannot and should not be overlooked, particularly for two key reasons. First, the family home is a source of wealth that can be passed down from generation to generation, saving the newest owners the burden of mortgage debt and providing them with an economic base to build upon. Second, the home can be used as leverage in the owners’ own lifetime, such as using the home as a borrowing instrument to provide for other needs. Of course, caution is advised to avoid negative consequences, but this can be an effective economic resource to tap into when funds are otherwise available.
Real Property Can Be the Most Complex Asset to Properly Distribute.
Finally, because land is so valuable, it is often the most complex asset to distribute, and has regulated protections against loss. First, there are several options for ownership of the land, as well as a choice of selections in how to distribute the property to heirs after the owner’s death. Second, actions in real property often have a longer statutes of limitations, which means a longer time to bring suit in property disputes and a longer allowance to keep the property while the dispute settles.
Owning your home is one of the most important and valuable quality of life decisions one can make. Ownership of a home can span generations, providing both economic and emotional benefits to the current occupants and owners, as well as those of future generations. Because land is so valuable, it can be difficult to properly distribute and has protections against loss that allow owners to continue using and occupying the house in the event of property disputes. With proper planning and counsel, land and home ownership can provide lifetimes of security, enjoyment, and cherished memories with those we love and those dearly departed.
- This information is for general educational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice.
If you have an issue or case involving real property, Make an appointment with Patterson Justice Counsel and Attorney Tina M. Patterson for your consultation today. Don’t rush into decisions without the full and appropriate legal advice and backing.
Tina M. Patterson is the Principal Attorney of Patterson Justice Counsel, PLLC. She is an attorney licensed in the State of Michigan and Federal Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.