Oh my, there are many perils of joint ownership with your child. Many parents when divorced or widowed seek to add their children’s names to bank accounts, real estate, and investment accounts. These parents are seeking ease in dealing with these assets during lifetime and ease in transfer after death. But, ease is not common and distress is all too common.
First, what if your child gets divorced? The assets that your child owns will be subject to property distribution in divorce. When you put your child’s name on your assets, your child owns 100% of the assets (It’s lawyer math, you both own 100%.) You could lose your house, money, and investments in your child’s divorce.
Second, what if your child dies before you? You would have to pay inheritance taxes on your own money. Yes, pay inheritance taxes on your own money.
Third, what if your child becomes estranged? Your child would have the legal right to force you to buy her share of your own home or could even throw you out of your home. Your child could take all the money out of your bank account. This happens more often that you’d think.
Fourth, what if you need to qualify for publically funded nursing home care? Putting your child’s name on an account will be deemed to be a gift and could disqualify you from receiving free long term care.
Fifth, if your child needs public assistance, having his name on your accounts will likely disqualify him.
Sixth, what if your child gets sued? Your child is in a car accident and is being sued? Your child is a doctor and is being sued? Your joint assets can be taken in a lawsuit.
Seventh, what if your child goes bankrupt? If your child’s business fails or has health problems and goes bankrupt, your assets can be taken in the bankruptcy proceeding.
Eighth, what happens when you die? All assets in joint names transfer immediately to the joint owner. What if you have three children, but put only one child’s name on your accounts and home? That named child inherits all of the jointly held assets and the other two inherit none of the joint assets. This is true regardless of what your Will says.
There are simple measures for avoiding all eight of these perils and gaining the ease that you are seeking. Please call our office now to discuss joint ownership, powers of attorneys, and trusts. 858-792-5988.