One of the most overlooked aspects of estate planning is failing to properly title your assets. Coordinating the way that you title your assets with the type of estate plan you have can save you time and money and such a great deal of heartache for your loved ones.
Titling is directly tied to what happens to a person’s assets upon death. If a person’s assets are not titled in a manner that coordinates with their estate plan, upon death, certain dispositions specified in the will and/or trust may not be fulfilled. Therefore, your estate plan is only as good as your account titling. Understanding who owns what is a very important key to efficient estate planning; without the proper titling of property, even the most sophisticated and well-thought-out estate plan will fail.
A common example of this is that oftentimes people own different types of properties that have been acquired at different times in life. If assets are incorrectly titled in their will, they will not be distributed where they are intended to go. The title on the will often supersede what the will says and any other legal documents.
There are three ways that assets can be held at the time of death: fee simple (individually), tenancy in common (jointly), or by joint tenancy with right of survivorship (by contract). If assets are held fee simple, they are in your own name. If assets are held tenancy in common, they are held with at least one other person. And if a named beneficiary holds assets, they are held by joint tenancy with right of survivorship. Depending on your goals in life, and your wishes after death, the way you title your assets could be the difference between financial security and financial hardship for your family and/or beneficiaries. It is generally considered the best option to have major assets, such as real estate and investment accounts, held in the name of a couple’s or person’s revocable living trust.
As an experienced attorney in estate planning, Jim Ward will help you understand the differences between the various types of property ownership. His expert advice will not only guide you through a complicated process, but also ensure that your savings, investments, valuables, and real estate are distributed according to your wishes.
Please do not hesitate to call us today for a free assessment, 1-800-JIM-WARD.