Remember: Real Estate Is Part of Your Estate

Physician's Money Digest, April 2006, Volume 13, Issue 4

No matter where you live, one thing is clear:All of your real estate transactions need toinvolve not only a qualified realtor, but alsoa seasoned tax and estate-planning attorney. While taxand probate laws vary from state to state, your tax andestate attorney should review all of your past, present,and future real estate endeavors. A professional canhelp to protect your privacy and your properties, planfor new purchases, analyze exit strategies, and arrangefor the disposition of your estate.

•Safeguarding your privacy. As a whole, physiciansare subject to public scrutiny more than mostprofessionals. Keeping the allocation of your assetsprivate, rather than public information, may be ofbenefit to you. Your tax and estate attorney will bestbe able to advise you on how to accomplish this privacy.In general, it may just be the difference betweena living trust and a will.

•Protecting your real estate. While thethought of a malpractice suit is terrifying, the repercussionscan be far less damaging if you have anattorney to help you protect your assets. Anyacquired real estate, whether it is your primary residence,an investment property, a second home, oryour future retirement home, is considered an assetand needs to be safeguarded. Your tax and estateattorney can advise you on how to most effectivelyprotect these assets.

•Planning for a purchase. The decision to purchasereal estate ought to be discussed with your taxand estate-planning attorney prior to meeting withyour realtor. You may want to ask your attorney thefollowing questions: What type of property is mostprudent for me to purchase? Should the new propertybe placed in a trust or in my name? Is it smart toput both my name and my spouse's name on the title?How will I protect this new property from creditors?

After you and your attorney have made appropriatedeterminations, it is then time to bring in yourrealtor, who will then structure the transaction. Meetwith your tax and estate-planning attorney shortlyafter any purchase to amend your estate plan so thatyou can consider how the new real estate will be allocated,and understand the impact this property willhave on the value of your gross estate. You shouldalso determine if your beneficiaries will be taxedadditionally as a result of this purchase.

•Creating an exit strategy before selling.Before you decide to sell a property, contact yourrealtor for market updates and realistic listingprices. Once you have secured this information,meet with your tax and estate-planning attorney todiscuss the most viable and beneficial exit strategiesfor your estate.

•Honoring your wishes. Plain and simple, yourtax and estate-planning attorney's main goal is to seeto it that all you have worked hard to acquire is protectedand allocated in accordance with your wishesafter your death. These highly specialized attorneyswill put together a comprehensive estate plan now thatwill help save your loved ones a lot of hassle in thefuture. Your attorneys will accomplish the following:

•Ensure the efficient transfer or dissolution of yourpractice at death to preserve value for your family

•Minimize estate taxes, which will save yourinheritors thousands of dollars

•Clearly outline your wishes for the dispositionof your estate, so there is no room for dispute

•Protect the privacy of your family by keepingyour bestowed assets exempt from public information

•Avoid probate hearings where applicable, thusreducing wealth-transfer delays.Realtors are in the business of assisting with salesand purchases of real estate. As a physician, you needto know that working solely with a realtor may notsatisfy your unique needs. Before you embark on anyreal estate acquisition or sale, you should consultyour tax and estate-planning attorney.

Ron Roth is the founder of Los Angeles-based Premier Realty, a

boutique agency specializing in serving clients in high-profile

medical positions. He has assisted physicians with their real

estate needs for over 15 years. He welcomes questions or comments

at 818-509-1111, 818-509-1114 (fax), or ron@ronrothhomes.com. For more information, visit www.ronrothhomes.com.