When it comes to joint ownership, it should not be your only form of estate planning. Joint ownership with a spouse may be the only type of joint ownership that you consider. There are too many perils of joint ownership that will not accomplish your estate planning goals and may not even accomplish your lifetime goals. Joint ownership works if no one gets mad, no one gets greedy, no one gets sick, no one gets sued and no one dies in the wrong order. The problem with joint ownership is that you do not need permission to make the asset joint, but you need permission to remove the joint owner. I recently received a call from a client who’s dad had put his daughter on the deed to the house that indicated that there were rights of the survivor. The daughter thought that she was getting the house when he died, when in fact dad really just put her name on for convenience and wanted her to share the proceeds with all the other children. Unfortunately, dad is now mad at her and has decided that he wants to sell the house and now wants his daughter and her kids to move out. The daughter has informed him that she is not only not moving out, but she is not going to agree to the sale of the home. Dad may now either be stuck living in the home, giving the home to his daughter or taking her to court. A simple Will or a Living Trust could have easily addressed his issues and avoided the pitfalls that he is now encountering.
Goudy Bookletter 1911