Monday, December 7, 2009

Today's Probate Answers

Does Joint Tenancy avoid a Death Probate?

Well, the answer is yes and no. In the case of a husband and wife who own their assets in joint tenancy, there’s no death probate when the first spouse dies because title passes automatically to the surviving joint tenant. However, when the surviving spouse dies, there will be a complete probate on the entire estate.

The fact that joint tenancy ownership avoids death probate at the first spouse’s death is a small reward for the many other disadvantages of joint tenancy ownership. It can lead to huge unexpected liability when parents and children own assets together. In community property states it creates capital gains tax problems. It can create unintended beneficiaries and often causes gift and death tax problems. For these reasons, estate planning experts agree that joint tenancy may be the poorest estate planning tool.

Does a Will avoid a Death Probate?

No. In fact, a will guarantees probate. The word probate actually comes from the Latin and it means “to prove the will.” All property that is controlled by your will must go through the probate court. Once your estate enters the probate process, it’s trapped in the system until the judge releases it.

For more information, please visit our website: