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The Risks of Joint Tenant Ownership

It is still common for parents to add one or more children to the title of their home as joint owners. It is still a very bad idea to do so.

A common estate planning technique is for people to make their children joint owners of the parent's home. This is often done by well-meaning people who know just enough about estate administration to be dangerous.

By adding a child to a deed as a joint owner, the house will not have to go through probate when the parent dies. People do this as a way of avoiding probate. However, it is dangerous to do so.

When the child is added to the deed, they become an owner of the home with an equal share. That means if the child has creditors, then they can seek to make claims against the home. That is not the only reason it is a bad idea, as The Columbus Dispatch discusses in "Adding child to house title has risks."

One potential problem is that if more than one child is added to the deed of the home, the property might not pass as the parents intended, if one of the children predeceases their parents. The surviving child would become the sole owner, when the parents pass away. This would leave nothing for any children or other heirs of the child who passed away first. There are also many potential tax problems that can result from adding someone to the deed of a home.

It is much better to see an estate planning attorney to get a will or a trust to distribute your home to your children, after you pass away. A qualified estate planning attorney can help you evaluate the best options for your circumstances.

Reference: The Columbus Dispatch (May 13, 2018) "Adding child to house title has risks."

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