Going through the probate process can be very frustrating for the loved ones you leave behind after your death. Although you can do things to try to make the process easier by having a valid will, the probate process can still be very long and drawn out. For this reason, many people opt to create a joint tenancy situation as a way of avoiding probate.
A joint tenancy simply means that someone owns property with another person. One type of joint tenancy is called joint tenancy with full rights of survivorship. There is also tenancy in common and tenants by the entirety. Joint tenancy can also be held in things other than real estate such as stocks or bank accounts.
Many married couples avoid probate by having joint tenancy rights in their real estate. This means that the ownership of the property passes to the other spouse if one of them dies. It doesn’t require the probate process because it automatically reverts to the surviving joint owner. Again, this can also take place with mutual funds, investments and bank accounts.
Additionally, any assets that are held by husband and wife under tenants by the entirety also pass automatically to the surviving spouse. Again, this means they avoid the probate process. However, the probate process will be required when the last remaining member of the joint tenancy passes away.
Many people opt to create living trusts as a way to avoid the probate process while also getting around the possible ramifications of owning property and assets jointly. A good estate planning attorney can help you to figure out which method of asset protection and estate planning will work best for your situation. Don’t assume that joint tenancy will be the solution to all of your estate planning and probate avoiding issues without speaking to a qualified legal professional.