Joint accounts risky
How should I register my money market certificates to avoid as much trouble as possible at my death? I now have some made out to myself and my son and a similar amount for myself and my daughter using "or" on the accounts. I expect them to pay any taxes at death, but I live on the interest in the meantime. I'm concerned about whether my children could be sued and I would lose the money. What would be the correct reading so these accounts could not be withdrawn or attached by suits? C. G.
My understanding is that using "and" requires the signature of all joint owners and "or" permits either of two names for transactions of securities, including bank accounts and certificates of deposit. You are aware of a definite risk in owning assets jointly with your children. Instead of joint ownership, you may register some securities with your son and daughter as beneficiaries using a POD clause -- that is, payable on death. Or you could place your assets in a trust that delivers all income to you during your lifetime and automatically conveys the property to your children at death. This is a form of living trust, but the expense may not justify the switch. Depending on the total of your assets, you may find a simple will the least costly and certainly least risky method of leaving your assets to your children. Even though your assets may be jointly owned, they are still subject to estate and inheritance tax liab ilities at your death.