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Avoid disputes by leaving jointly-owned property out of your will

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2021 | Probate & Estate Planning |

As you enjoy the life of retirement in Pennsylvania, you may have started to wonder about what will happen to your estate after your passing. This is where estate planning comes into play so that you can ensure that all of your assets go to the people to whom you intend. While it might seem fairly straightforward, to begin with, estate planning can get more difficult when you’re dealing with jointly-owned property.

What is jointly-owned property?

Property that is jointly owned is simply a property that is owned by more than one person. This most commonly occurs for married couples where both have ownership of a piece of physical property. However, elderly individuals may decide to add their children or grandchildren to the deed of a specific piece of property.

Many items that are jointly owned are titled as “joint tenants with the right of survivorship.” This means that if a joint owner of the property passes away, the full property is given to the remaining survivor. This is very common to do for things like bank accounts, securities and homes. This allows the remaining survivor to have easy access to these types of properties to help handle bills and settle debts after the passing of their joint owner.

Skip the will

Property which is owned as joint tenants never passes into your estate after you die because it passes to the surviving owner by operation of law at the moment you pass away. While a will is a great tool to include as part of your estate planning, it shouldn’t include any jointly-owned property, because it will have no effect on jointly-owned property. When a jointly-owned property is included in a will, there can be the possibility of a dispute about who is the owner of the asset. Those handling the estate of the decedent may mistakenly believe that the will controls how the asset should be transferred. By not including jointly-owned property in the will, it helps to eliminate any uncertainty about who may have ownership of the property once you pass. Whether the property passes under the will or not, though, inheritance tax may be due and should be considered in the estate plan.

Estate planning can be difficult to figure out at first. When dealing with jointly-owned properties, it’s a good idea to simply leave them out of a will. If you need help with understanding more about estate planning, then it’s a good idea to contact an experienced estate planning lawyer today.