Some bad ideas in estate planning never seem to go away. No matter how many times estate planning attorneys try to tell people that the ideas are bad, people continue to make the same mistakes.
One common mistake is when people try to do their own estate planning to get around probate. For example, a widow may add an adult child as a joint tenant on the deed to her home. While it is true that if all goes according to plan, the child will inherit the house after his mother passes away without the need for probate. This approach can be a bad idea.
Why? Normally, the trouble comes because the child has a creditor who can attach the home to pay off the child’s debts. However, there are other potential issues, as was recently discussed in the Napa Valley Register in "Can new wife inherit home?"
In this case, a married couple added their daughter to the deed as a joint tenant. The wife passed away, which made the father and daughter co-owners of the home. The father then remarried to a much younger woman.
The daughter refused to give up ownership and allow for a new deed allowing the new wife to inherit the home. When the father passes away, the daughter will inherit the home and be free to throw the new wife out if she wants.
Instead of looking for ways to avoid probate on your own, go to an estate planning attorney for assistance. The attorney can give you better ways to accomplish your goals and help you avoid these types of problems.
Reference: Napa Valley Register (April 5, 2018) "Can new wife inherit home?"