Avoiding joint ownership

I have read your advice about avoiding joint tenancy ownership of assets except for first-married spouses, but I don't know the reasons. Would you please explain this? M. W.

This question surfaces so frequently that I can only surmise that many readers must own property jointly with all manner of relatives and nonrelatives for a variety or reasons.

Numerous hazards accompany joint ownership, and the most prominent are these:

1. Joint owners each own 100 percent of the value of property in the usual form of joint owneship.Thus, if one person is sued and assets are attached, a saving account or stock holding could be cleaned out and the other joint owner(s) could be powerless to retain their share, even if one person originally supplied all of the funds.

2. Owning assets jointly means a person cannot will them or give them to a specific person at death. The joint owner receives clear title.

3. Joint ownership is often used to avoid making a will. This thinking may be satisfactory for simple cases, but it does not provide for succession in case two joint owners should die in the same catastrope and there is not contingent succession beyond the survivor's death. Generally, joint ownership should not replace a well-conceived will or living trust.

4. Jointly owned property may not always be used to converted expeditiously if an emergency or unexpected need should arise. Concurrence of a joint owner may not be readily obtainable.

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