By: Laurie Valentine- COO & Trust Counsel
A Christian estate plan is one you develop by determining how God wants you to: (1) provide for your family and other “dependents” at your death and (2) have your finances managed and decisions made for you if you became incapacitated and no longer able to do those things for yourself.
Step #4 Plan Your Use of Joint Ownership. Many people put everything they own in joint ownership with others so that, at death, no probate court proceedings are required for the other joint owner to have full ownership and control of the assets. “Joint tenancy with rights of survivorship” titling does avoid probate, but should be used carefully.
Your Will does not control jointly-owned assets. That means that even with a carefully thought out “written plan” (a Will) for asset distribution at death, any assets in joint names will not be governed by that plan.
Putting others’ names on your assets as joint owner makes them just that…an owner with rights in those assets. That could result in those assets being subject to the claims of that other joint owner’s creditors, if he or she gets into some kind of legal or financial difficulty.
And, if the other joint owner dies first you could be taxed on receiving your own assets back from the other joint owner at their death.
Next Month-Step #5 Make Provision for Each Intended Beneficiary.
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The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.