How to Leave a House to Someone in a Will: Step-By-Step

Updated

Homeownership can be a great accomplishment for many. For most people, our house is one of our most valuable pieces of property. In addition, anyone in the process of drafting a will knows that their house is an important consideration.

Jump ahead to these sections:

Your house is also your home, which is a very special place. If you have lived in your house for a long time, it may carry special memories for you, your significant other, your children, and even your grandchildren. A house only increases with sentimental value as the years carry on. 

Whether you have lived in your house for years or months, it is important to include it in your end-of-life planning. Choosing who to leave your house to in a will involves many considerations, including financial and emotional concerns. Have you thought about who you would like to leave your house to after you are gone? 

Can You Leave a House With a Mortgage to Someone in a Will?

For most of us, our house has a mortgage. Most homeowners do not pay off their mortgage during their lifetime. So what happens to your mortgage when you die? Unfortunately, your mortgage does not disappear just because you are gone. This means that if you are going to leave a house to someone in your will, it most likely may have a mortgage.

You can leave a house with a mortgage to someone in a will. However, the mortgage is an important consideration when you decide who can take ownership or manage your house. Whoever inherits the house will have to decide what to do with the mortgage.

The recipient will have to make a financial decision about how to handle the mortgage. They may have to sell the house or use other assets to pay off the mortgage. They may also decide to keep the house and become responsible for the loan payments. 

Who Can You Leave Your House to in a Will?

The great thing about homeownership is that the house is yours, which also means that you get to decide who you can leave your house to in your will. You have many options when deciding who to leave your house to in your will. You may leave your house to your children (all, some, or one of them), a significant other, friend or friends, charity, or other organization.

Steps for Leaving a House to Your Child in Your Will

If you have a child or children, it may seem natural to want to leave them your house when you are gone. Keep in mind that you can only leave property that is yours. If you are married and live in a community property state, you can only leave one-half of any community property. If you own the house on your own, then you can follow the steps below.

1. Talk to your child/children

You are in charge of how you distribute your assets. However, talking to your child about what you plan to leave them can help ease some of the stress with the planning process, especially if you have more than one child.

2. Follow the steps for writing a will

Writing a will is more than just listing your property and who you wish to inherit it. You can choose to either write a will online using an online will preparation site, or consult an estate attorney to help draft a will that fulfills your wishes.

When you draft a will, you also make the decision as to who can help execute it. When it comes to wills, you may want to be transparent and make sure that the person you select to be an executor can fulfill their duty. This is different from a beneficiary in a will, so you may want to clarify roles and responsibilities to your loved ones. 

3. Name your child

If you are leaving your house to your child or children, then you should name them in the will. Use their full legal name, and also describe their relationship to you.

4. Name an alternate beneficiary

If you are leaving your house to your child in a will, then they are the beneficiary. You should also name an alternate beneficiary. An alternate beneficiary is some you designate to receive the house in the event that it does not go to your child. 

Why wouldn’t the house go to your child? The house may not go to your child if they refuse it or, in sadder circumstances, if they die before you.

5. Identify your house

Your house is real property. If you are leaving your house to your child, then you should identify it in the will. You may include the legal description from the deed, but you can also just use its address.

6. Specify how the house is to be divided

If you are leaving your house to one child in its entirety, then specify that in the will. If you are leaving your house to more than one child, then you need to specify how the house is to be divided. In addition, if you want your children to share in your house equally, then you should clearly state that it is to be equally divided among your children. 

Steps for Leaving a House to a Significant Other in a Will

It can be difficult to think about leaving your significant other alone when you die. Leaving your significant other a house in a will can provide you and your significant other with comfort. If you are not married and want to leave a house to your significant other in a will, then you can follow the steps below.

1. Talk to your significant other

You do not have to tell your significant other that you are leaving a house to them. However, speaking with them can help with the planning process, in addition to any other paperwork they may have to have handy when the time comes.

2. Follow the steps for writing a will

You should make sure to follow all of the necessary steps for writing a will and making it legal, including writing down what you want to do with your property after death, signing and dating the will, and having two people witness your signature.

3. Name your significant other

If you are leaving your house to your significant other, then you should name them in the will. Use their full legal name. You may also want to describe their relationship to you.

4. Name an alternate beneficiary

If you are leaving your house to your significant other in a will, then they are the beneficiary. You should also name an alternate beneficiary. An alternate beneficiary is some you designate to receive the house in the event that it does not go to your significant other. 

5. Identify your house

As before, you will want to identify your house in the will and state that it will be left to your significant other. While you may want to include the legal description from the deed, you can also just use its address.

Steps for Leaving a House to Someone Else in Your Will

You may decide to leave a house to someone besides your child or significant other in your will. If you decide to leave your house to someone else in your will, then follow the steps below.

1. Talk to the other person

In movies, it is a common theme for someone to be surprised by a lavish inheritance of a house. However, in real life that is rarely what happens. You can choose to keep your end-of-life planning private. However, discussing your plans can help with the process, both logistically and emotionally.

Inheriting real estate comes with many considerations that a person may want time to consider. If you are leaving your house to someone in a will, you may want to discuss it with them.

2. Write a will

As with all the other options mentioned above, you should have legal paperwork that explains how you wish to leave your estate and to whom. When writing a will that states that you are leaving your house to a person that is not next of kin, you may need to have the right language to ensure the inheritance.

Tip: Consulting with an estate attorney when drafting a will with this information can help you make sure that all your wishes will be followed. 

3. Name the person

Use their full legal name. You should also describe how you know the person or their relationship to you. This is especially helpful if the person is not family and/or if the person has a common name. 

After making sure that you have properly named the person in your will, you can follow steps 5 and 6 as they are written above. In all cases it is recommended to have an alternate beneficiary, to ensure that the house will be inherited by someone you choose. 

How Does Leaving Someone Your House Work After You Die?

If you leave someone your house in a will, then after you die, the property will most likely have to pass through the court’s probate process. Your beneficiaries will have to take some kind of action to initiate the probate process. Probate laws vary by state and dictate how a decedent’s house must be handled upon their death.

During the probate process, your financial obligations will be addressed. These obligations can include any outstanding debt, medical care payments, and other costs associated with the end-of-life process. These financial obligations can impact inheritance, including tangible or real property such as your house.

The probate process can take time. Part of the process would also include transferring the house to the beneficiary. Once the house is transferred, the beneficiary will have to choose what they want to do with the house. They may decide to keep the house and live in it or sell it. 

Are There Any Other Ways You Can Leave a House to Someone After You Die?

You have many considerations when deciding how to dispose of your property after your death. A will is one way to transfer a house after you die. That said, there are other ways you can leave a house to someone after you die. These options may have some benefits over a will which you can discuss with an estate planner. Other ways to leave a house to someone include the following listed below.  

Create a trust

If you create a trust, you can legally transfer property to someone, but the process does not occur immediately. A trust allows you to set the terms of when the other person receives the property that you transfer. This means that you can say that a person receives ownership of your home when you die.

If you use a trust, then the house would not have to go through the probate process when you die. The trust documents dictate the transfer of property. There are many reasons that you may want to avoid the probate process, including time, cost, and privacy. Additionally, you may have a beneficiary that is unable to manage the inheritance until a certain age, such as a minor.

Use the deed to transfer ownership

You may also be able to use the language in the deed to your house to transfer ownership upon your death. One way to do so is to leave the house to another person by modifying the language in your deed. There are different options to consider when modifying your deed. You should talk to an estate planner to help decide which is best for you.

A House Is an Important Part of Your Estate Plan

A house may be one of the most valuable pieces of property that you can give to a child, significant other, or friend when you die. Now that you know about leaving a house in a will, and other options, you can begin to think about what you would like to happen with your house when you die. 

There are many considerations to take into account when deciding what to do with your house after you die. You should explore your financial and emotional wants and needs when deciding what to do with your house after you die. You should also speak to an estate planner about your options and which may be right for you.

Icons sourced from FlatIcon.