Joint Ownership Issues
- What about the transfer of share in a condominium or cooperative apartment?
- Should I put my home or account in joint ownership with my child?
- Can a married couple use joint tenancy until one spouse dies, then set up a trust for the survivor?
It is essential to check the rules of your condominium or coop before transferring any shares to be sure that the transfer is permitted. Generally, just like with the sale of your condo or coop, management approval is required and there may be transaction-related costs imposed.
Joint ownership serves several purposes, but is not necessarily the best way to do your estate planning. There are several concerns.
Putting your child’s name on the title to your property will avoid probate because the account passes directly to your child, and does not go through probate. However, if your child predeceases you or becomes disabled, you have not accomplished your estate planning objectives. If your child becomes disabled then the assets in the account may hinder his/her ability to obtain certain governmental benefits.
If you need to apply for Medicaid benefits within five years after adding a joint owner to certain assets, your having added a joint owner may result in a Medicaid penalty period if the joint owner has actually benefitted from the account by withdrawing assets.
Creditors of your child will be able to reach the joint tenancy property to enforce claims against the child.
Adding someone as a joint owner and then permitting them to withdraw assests may also create a taxable gift with each withdrawal.
Gifting the account to the joint tenant with a right of survivorship may not be consistent with your ultimately desired estate distribution.
Adding someone else’s name to your account may also not be consistent with your ultimately desired distribution.
Yes, but this unfortunately has several problems associated with it. There is no guarantee that the surviving spouse will have time to set up a trust after the first spouse dies or will actually get around to setting up a trust, regardless of the amount of time available.