Joint Title with Children

A joint title between spouses is a good way to avoid probate fees between spouses.

However, a joint title with your kids is not always a good idea for the following reasons:

1. You lose control of the property.   Your children will have to consent to any sale and if they want the property for themselves, you have a court battle ahead of you.

2. Your children’s creditors can claim the property and register a judgment against it.

3. Your children’s ex-spouse can claim half of your child’s share of the property.

4. If you have several children on title, and one dies, there is nothing for the grandchildren.   The surviving kids take it all.  All it takes is a car accident.

5. The transfer of non principle-residence property is a disposition for income tax capital gain purposes.

If you are going to put a child onto a joint bank account for you so they can pay your bills, make sure you advise the bank and your child, in writing, whether or not you want that child to get the remaining money when you die, or it belongs to your estate.

Interesting aside, the husband dies and has a bank account in his sole name.   The husband has no will.   The bank refuses to transfer funds to surviving spouse until provided with Letters of Administration.  The lawyer has to be hired and legal fees are incurred.   As stated, the above Joint Title between spouses is a good way to avoid probate fees.

David R. Barth

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