Joint Ownership: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Putting a child on your bank account can make life easier as you get older, and it can help your heirs avoid probate after you're gone. But it comes with some pretty severe downsides. In fact, a revocable trust may be a better move.

(Image credit: 2jenn)

No matter how many people I meet with to create estate plans, undoubtedly we talk about how to avoid probate (having to go to court to get access to property when someone dies) and how to make sure your assets are accessible if you become incapacitated. A relatively simple way to accomplish both of those goals is to own assets jointly with another person. The joint owner is typically a spouse or an adult child.

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Tracy Craig, Fellow, ACTEC,  AEP®
Partner and Chair of Trusts and Estates Group, Seder & Chandler, LLP

Tracy A. Craig is a partner and chair of Seder & Chandler's Trusts and Estates Group. She focuses her practice on estate planning, estate administration, prenuptial agreements, guardianships and conservatorships, elder law and charitable giving. She works with individuals in all areas of estate and gift tax planning, from testamentary estate planning and business succession planning to sophisticated lifetime leveraged gifting techniques, such as grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs), intentionally defective grantor trusts, family limited liability companies and qualified personal residence trusts (QPRTs). Tracy serves in various fiduciary capacities, including trustee and personal representative (formerly known as executor). She also works with clients on issues facing elders.