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Joint Ownership is Not Always a Good Idea

Posted 5 years 227 days ago ago by Danielle Streed

How many times have you heard someone say “You should put one of your children on your account so if something happens to you they won't have to go to probate or if something happens to you and you have a stroke they can pay your bills.”  What's even worse is if someone says to you “You should put all your children on the deed to your house and that way you don't have to take the time to set up a will or trust and they all inherit your home equally.”  That may all sound like a great idea, but the problem is that if all of your children are on the deed to your house, they may not all agree about how to transfer or sell the house at the time of your death.  If one child wants to play hardball, the others may find themselves taking the other sibling to court to have to force the presale of the property or to seek partition of the property.   If one of the children chooses not to help pay the taxes or insurance, you  may also find yourself suing that child for partial payment.  The other problem is if you only put one child on your account or the deed to your home, that child legally becomes the beneficiary or owner of that account or asset and has no legal obligation to share any of those assets with the other siblings.  Many people look at me and say “Oh, my children will share.  They won't fight over my money.”  Traditionally, that's not the case.  Most of the time one child ends up on the account and feels that they have done all the work and this is the reward for taking care of Mom or Dad and being the child that has handled all of Mom or Dad's financial matters and helped Mom or Dad out during their senior years.  Taking shortcuts such as putting your children's  names on the account can also cause potential risk of liability.  If that child has to pay back child support or if they're facing a future divorce,  their creditors could ultimately attach to your account and you may find that the money is not there when you need it.  Taking the time to set up a simple will or living trust to  address your wishes as to how things should be divided when you're gone is the safest route to go.

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