Many consider adding an adult child as a joint holder on their bank account or property title as an effective way to simplify estate administration and reduce estate administration costs. While this approach has its advantages, it can also bring unintended consequences if not executed properly.
Once your child is listed as a joint holder on your bank account or property title, they may be presumed as a co-owner. This presumption carries potential implications you should be aware of:
- Marital Issues: In the event of your child’s separation from their spouse, your assets may be subject to claims as family property, entitling the spouse to a share.
- Creditor Access: Creditors pursuing unpaid debts owed by your child could seek to access your bank account through garnishment.
Adding your child as a joint holder to your bank account can also lead to ambiguity after your passing.
It’s essential to clearly outline your intentions for the account. Will your child receive the full balance, or is the fund meant for estate expenses and subsequent division among beneficiaries described in your Will? Failing to properly document the parent’s intentions can create tension and disputes with surviving family members.
For properties beyond your primary residence, changing title holders can potentially trigger unintended capital gains tax. If it’s your primary residence, but not your child’s, there could be income tax consequences in the future.
SEEK PROFESSIONAL GUIDANCE
Consulting with an accountant before making any changes to property titles is advisable to prevent unforeseen income tax consequences. In addition, you should seek legal assistance before adding your children as joint holders to your bank accounts, property titles, or other assets. Estate planning requires thoughtful consideration, and professional guidance can help ensure your intentions are carried out smoothly while minimizing potential risks.
Disclaimer: This Blog is intended to provide readers with general information. Each client’s circumstances and legal solutions might vary. For further details, please reach out to us to learn more.