Joint Ownership

When putting together your estate plan, working with an experienced attorney can help you to avoid making mistakes that can cost you more than money.  Some of the best-intended plans will undermine the core of the important legacy of family. One such mistake is joint ownership.

Joint ownership of a bank account or real estate title is common between a husband and wife. While not perfect for estate planning, the most common mistake made in this area is when parents add an adult child as co-owner. This is often done in an effort to avoid probate but has the potential to cause significant problems. Adding a co-owner means that you also expose yourself to that person’s credit problems. A life lived building credit and assets can be undermined by adding a co-owner to the title and exposing those assets to creditors.

Another concern is divorce. If the co-owner should find himself or herself in a battle for dissolution, those jointly owned assets could be viewed as part of the marital estate. Dower Rights in some states mean that the divorcing spouse must sign off on any plans to sell or borrow against an asset such as the family home. Joint ownership means losing control and putting the assets into added risk. Adding only one child’s name can tear a family apart and cause legal costs, court battles and even unexpected gift tax issues.

It’s important to work with a professional on a solid estate plan. At Marc A. Bronstein, A Professional Law Corporation, we have the experience and objectivity to help you avoid unseen problems and keep your legacy – and family – intact. Call us.

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