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The Pitfalls of Joint Tenancy

This video is about joint tenancy. Many years ago, financial advisors in particular, started to advise people to put their assets in joint tenancy with others, in particular, their spouses or children in order to avoid probate fees. It was a minimal type of estate planning.

Unfortunately, all of those joint accounts have now ended up in litigation in the sense that in many occasions, the deceased did not make it clear if he or she intended to gift the monies to the other joint tenant or if the other joint tenant simply held the assets in trust.

I’ll give you an example. Many parents trust that their children will do the right thing amongst themselves. So the parent might put a condominium or a house in joint tenancy with one child knowing that that child, will upon the parent’s death, do the right thing and share it equally with the other children. In fact, this often doesn’t happen. The deceased child feels entitled and takes it as a gift. The other children end up in years of litigation arguing that mom intended it as a trust. It is essential that the intention be noted or there is a presumption that, or there is a transfer of an asset of significant value for no value per one dollar another consideration, it is a presumption of a trust.

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