Every estate-planning attorney will tell his/her clients to organize their assets to avoid the stressful probate process. The probate court process is not only expensive, but it is also extremely inconvenient and frustrating for the heirs. One solution to avoid probate is to create a joint tenancy agreement. Joint tenancy is defined as the holding of an estate/property by two or more individuals. When one of the joint owners passes, the estate/property will automatically pass to the surviving joint owner. Joint tenancy is an “inexpensive version of an estate plan” that can be used as an alternative to a will. However, there are consequences of using joint tenancy as a substitute for estate-planning documents. Because trustworthiness is a defining factor in joint tenancy agreements, it is important that the joint owners are both on the same page. For example, there must be full trust between joint owners in joint tenancy bank accounts because one owner may use the account for his/her personal expenses.
On the other hand, living trusts are more expensive and are used more often compared to joint tenancy agreements to avoid probate. Living trusts are characterized as less risky than joint tenancy agreements because there is more"assurance that your assets will not be used without permission." Because of this, most estate-planning attorneys will advise that you create a living trust to avoid probate. Lauren Richardson is willing to answer any questions you might have about how to avoid the expensive, stressful probate process. Her expertise will assist clients in creating the ideal estate plan for their personal needs.