Adding Minor to House Title
By Ilyce R. Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin
Summary: A family would like to add their
minor daughter to the house title. Ilyce and Sam explain that the daughter can
own a piece of the home, but as long as she is a minor, she cannot own it directly.
Q: My husband and I would like to know if we can add our minor daughter to our house title. How would we go about doing that?
A. You daughter can own a piece of your home, but as long as she is a minor, she cannot own it directly. She could not, for example, own it as a joint tenant or as a tenant in common with you.
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That’s unfortunate, because joint tenancy would allow you, your wife and anyone else who is not a minor to own the home equally and as a whole. Upon the death any of the owners, the title to the home would automatically be left to the remaining other surviving owners.
As a tenant in common, each owner owns a share of the home and upon the death of any owner, that owner’s share transfers directly to his or her heirs in accordance to his or her will. If there is no will, ownership in the property would transfer according to the laws of the state in which the property is located.
As a minor, your daughter has limited rights and duties under the law. Using trusts or other vehicles similar to trusts, including a transfer under the Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA), your daughter can indirectly own the property.
Setting up a trust or other ownership vehicle requires you to choose someone to administer the trust who is not an owner of the property. That trustee would have authority to sell, mortgage, manage, lease, and maintain the property, as well as have the duty to maintain the property.
With an UTMA account, you could set up a type of custodial account for your minor daughter. For more information, talk to an estate attorney or real estate attorney to set up the ownership documents.
Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Ilyce R. Glink’s latest book is 50 Simple Steps You Can Take To Sell Your Home Faster and For More Money In Any Market. If you have questions for them, write: Real Estate Matters Syndicate, PO Box 366, Glencoe, IL 60022 or contact them through Ilyce’s website www.thinkglink.com