Curious request in deed-in-lieu of foreclosure

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However, there are two steps you should take:

1. Go in person to the county assessor's office and start the process of having it reassess the classification of your house.

2. Go back to the lender that rejected you and ask when your application was completed. This is important, because under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (a federal law) lenders must advise you within 30 days from the time a loan application is made whether you qualify or are rejected.

If, for example, more than 30 days have elapsed, you have a cause of action against that lender. I am not necessarily suggesting that you file a lawsuit, but you could use that information as leverage to convince the lender to make you the loan.

Also, show the lender pictures of your house, so that the lender will understand that -- contrary to what the city assessor says -- it is not a single-family house. Tell the lender that you have started the process to have that assessment changed, but that it will take a long time and in the meantime you want to take advantage of the lower interest rates.

If the lender still refuses to give you a new loan, I would go to other lenders in your area.

DEAR BENNY: My father-in-law has had major health issues over the last decade. Because of that, and the fact he and his wife are getting older, he wants to deed his timeshare to his three sons. In that manner, he is hoping to avoid being involved with their estates.

I am thinking that doing this could create a tax situation for the sons (and my husband) that the sons would not want. Is this the case? Would they be wiser to create a trust or take some other action with this timeshare? --Johanna

DEAR JOHANNA: I have written about this many times. When someone gives a gift, the tax basis (the number that is the original purchase price) of the donor becomes the basis of the donee. So in most situations, where the property has appreciated in value, if the giftee sells the property (and has not lived in it for two out of the five years before it is sold) he or she may have to pay a large capital gains tax.

So, in general, I cannot -- for most situations -- recommend that parents gift property to their children.

However, if the timeshare has depreciated in value, then it may make sense to deed (i.e., gift) it to her three sons. If they ever sell the timeshare (which is the subject of another column because it's not at all easy) they will not make a profit and thus will not have to pay the tax.

Unless the timeshare is used for investment purposes, the sons will not be able to take a tax deduction for the loss, but at least they won't have any tax to pay.

Talk to your own financial adviser for specifics about your situation.

DEAR BENNY: I was left a "life estate" in a residency and wish to know how long my family would have to clean out my property before the siblings are allowed to take possession of the home. The siblings will own the house when I die. --Corbin

DEAR CORBIN: To my knowledge, there is no specific time frame in which your belongings need to be removed. What do you want to do with those belongings? Do you have a last will? If not, perhaps you should arrange to get a simple will (unless of course you will have a large estate) and have it spell out the disposition of your personal belongings.

Have you discussed this with the siblings? Because this is a concern to you, I suggest that you meet with the potential heirs and try to get a written agreement. This should resolve your issues. You should show them your will (or some document explaining how and where your belongings are to be distributed). Hopefully, they will honor your wishes.

You should also talk to those who will receive your belongings, so they will be prepared to act upon your death.

Benny L. Kass is a practicing attorney in Washington, D.C., and Maryland. No legal relationship is created by this column. Questions for this column can be submitted to benny@inman.com.

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