If you want to transfer land located in Louisiana to your children, you must do so in writing or the transfer will not be legal. Discuss the transaction with your children to determine if they want the land; the transfer should not be a surprise. You may list them as joint tenants with right of survivorship with you, which means all of you own the property while you are alive and only the children own it after your death. Or, if you want no ownership rights any longer, you can sign it over to them. In either situation, you will need to execute a new deed. In Louisiana, deeds must be notarized and recorded in the parish records.
Transferring land to your children can be complicated in certain situations, especially if your property is valuable. You should consider hiring an attorney or an online legal document provider to handle the paperwork. Even in relatively simple transfers, you may run into problems if you are over the age of 60 and there is concern the transfer may have been caused by your children taking unfair advantage of you. For example, if you have four children but transferred land only to John and Susan, the other two might worry that John and Susan influenced you -- or even forced you -- to transfer the property to them. While you are free to make any gifts you want, the government has a duty to investigate the situation if they receive a complaint of possible elder abuse. Consulting an attorney helps to show the gift was not made due to undue influence.
A warranty deed guarantees there are no liens, mortgages or claims from third parties that encumber the land. A quitclaim deed, on the other hand, simply transfers your interest in the land to your children without guarantees. Most real estate transactions use a warranty deed. If you prepare your own deed, you must include the legal names of the seller and buyers and legal description of the property. You can find the legal description on your current copy of the deed. If you do not have a copy, request it from the land records office in your parish. The deed must be signed in the office of a notary public.
Consider possible tax consequences when you sell or give land to your children. Louisiana law requires you to include the sales price and mortgage amount, if any, in your deed. Since the Internal Revenue Service allows you to give only a certain amount to any individual each year without paying a gift tax, you should consider consulting a tax professional to assist you. Whether you give the property to your children at no cost or ask them to buy it for less than fair market value, the IRS considers the transfer a gift. However, unless the property is located in New Orleans, you will not be required to pay local or state transfer taxes. New Orleans charges a flat "documentary tax" for recording deeds, mortgages and other documents. Whether you give the land to your children or sell it to them, the documentary tax will be the same amount.
You are required to record the deed in the parish where it is located. These are public records that notify others who owns the property. In most parishes, the Clerk of Courts handles the recording process. The larger parishes have separate departments that handle that function. Since recording rules may vary widely, contact the clerk to ask about recording fees and requirements. Take the original deed to the courthouse, pay the required fee and submit the deed for recording. You may request a certified copy of the deed at that time.
- Louisiana Revised Statutes: Acts of Transfer; Improvements; Contents
- RealEstateLawyers: Louisiana Property Deeds
- Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs: Elderly Protective Services (EPS)
- Public Records Online: Louisiana Land Records and Deeds Directory
- East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court: Recording Instruction Sheet
- New Orleans Notarial Archives: New Orleans Documentary Tax
- Internal Revenue Service: Frequently Asked Questions on Gift Taxes
- Heartlander: Louisiana Bans Real Estate Transfer Taxes
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