Joint ownership with a right of survivorship, or joint tenancy, is a common method of owning assets. Particularly with husbands and wives, it is a very common ownership method. Many people hear about joint tenancy as being a good estate planning tool – a way to transfer their assets to a loved one without court probate and without spending money on attorney’s fees.
Joint tenancy is a good tool, but it can also cause problems. For instance:
- put a child on your house as a joint tenant, and your house may be at risk later if your child gets divorced or goes bankrupt
- name your 2nd spouse as a joint owner and risk having your assets go to the spouse’s family instead of your family
- put inherited assets into joint account with your spouse and later, if you get divorced, you may be fighting over whether that was considered a gift your ex-spouse gets to keep