Category: Joint Tenancy

Houston Will and Trust Lawyer: Read This Before Adding Your Child’s Name to Your Banking Account!

The probate process in Houston can be long and costly, which leads people to think of creative ways of avoiding or speeding up the process.  One thing that people often do is to add their child’s name on their bank accounts. They believe by doing so, their child will have immediate access to the money rather than having to deal with the courts. Another thing that people try is to add their child’s name to their property deed to avoid having to wait for the probate process to transfer ownership. Either of these methods might work, but they are fraught with problems. Here are just of few of them.

  1. Any decision you make about your assets requires mutual consent.

If you add your child’s name to the deed of your home, you made him or her joint owner. This means that any decision, like selling the property, will have to be approved by both of you. If your child disagrees with your decisions, it will be costly and will need court intervention. You can imagine the family problems that could result from that litigation.

  1. “Mi casa es su casa” also means “My creditors are your creditors.”

If your child has financial problems, you should absolutely not add their name to any of your assets. If you do, the asset is now vulnerable to your child’s creditors. You could possibly lose your home due to your child’s financial mistakes.

  1. The survivor may do anything they please with the assets.

Once you pass away, your child will become the sole owner of all your assets. Any verbal agreement you had with them to distribute your assets to the rest of your heirs is meaningless. I know you trust your child completely, but there is always a possibility that your child may change their mind and not follow your instructions.

There are other ways to avoid probate. If you want to speed up the process for distributing your assets to your heirs and make sure your wishes are followed, talk to an experienced Houston estate planning attorney. As you can see, simply adding a child as an owner of your assets can cause problems you never saw coming. Call us today at (281) 218-0880 to set up a free consultation today.


How Do You and Your Spouse Hold Title to Your Property?

Joint Tenancy - 6-21-2016MoneySense’s article, "Joint tenancy vs. tenants in common,"  explains that most property can be owned either personally or jointly. Whether you should own property jointly with a spouse or other person is based upon your intention.

Jointly held property can be held either as joint tenants or as tenants in common. Joint tenancy has what is called the right of survivorship. This means that upon the death of one of the owners, the ownership of the asset – for example, the house that you and your spouse own – passes in equal shares to surviving owner.

Tenants in common, by contrast, have their shares of an asset become part of their estate. This results in the asset being distributed after their death based on their will.

Owning property jointly may be a bit unclear because joint ownership could mean either joint tenancy or tenancy in common.

Most spouses own property as joint tenants. Their share goes directly to their surviving spouse on their death. However, in some scenarios, such as second marriage, tenancy in common may be a better choice so that the asset can be willed to the children of the deceased spouse. This situation can be complicated, so speak with an estate planning attorney.

Remember that there are tax issues related to joint ownership. Just adding a spouse’s name to an account doesn’t make the account joint for tax purposes. Adding a spouse as a joint owner on most assets – like bank accounts, investment accounts or real estate – won’t generally create any immediate tax issues, but adding them to other assets – like a private corporation – might.

Reference: MoneySense (May 10, 2016) "Joint tenancy vs. tenants in common"