I know a gentleman, “Sam”, who remarried after losing his wife of 32 years. His new wife, “Sally”, sold her home and moved in with Sam. Sam put Sally’s name on the deed to his home taking title as “joint tenants”. Sam also put Sally on his bank accounts. Sam has a will which leaves all of his property to his two sons. What Sam didn’t realize though, was that when he moved property into joint tenancy with Sally, his will no longer controlled the distribution of his home or his bank accounts when he dies. Since those were Sam’s only major assets, he essentially had nothing to leave his children by way of his will and when he dies, everything would be inherited by Sally as the surviving joint tenant of those assets.
Property held in joint tenancy; brokerage or bank accounts held TOD or POD, retirement plans, and life insurance are not controlled by a will or even the probate court, but rather are controlled by joint tenancy and beneficiary designations. So in Sam’s case, by holding property in joint tenancy with Sally, all of those assets would go directly to Sally without probate and without control by his will, thereby completely disinheriting his children. But even more shocking, those assets could even end up going to Sally’s children when she passes, even if Sam and Sally pass at the same time.
How have you planned your estate? Does you plan match your intentions and objectives? With the number of blended families these days, the problem of how to provide for your spouse without disinheriting your children (especially those from a previous marriage) is huge.
So how can we solve these problems? A living trust is one of the most common ways to provide for your surviving spouse while he or she is living, then upon your spouse’s death, the remaining assets will go to your children. A trust will give you added assurance – it can protect your children’s inheritances and keep the assets out of control of the probate court when your trust is properly funded and managed.
Each family is unique, which is why it takes careful planning with an experienced attorney who can look at various factors and options for your specific needs. CALL 925.516.1617 TODAY to schedule your estate plan consultation.