Saturday, December 29, 2012
The common problem that most people face with joint tenancies is that they believe that a joint tenancy will not override the disposition plan established by their will. However, this is never the case. The joint tenancy operates outside the probate process. In fact, "the joint tenancy transfer at death results in what the law calls a 'non-probate transfer.'" What this means is that a joint tenant will take over any other person regardless of what the transferor's will states. So, if a client means to divide the amount that is located within his or her bank account, the best option for the client is to keep the account in his or her name and allow the will to determine the distribution of the account at the client's death. The costs of avoiding probate may not be worth the costs associated with a feuding family.
See Jim Flynn, Money & The Law: Joint Tenancy Can Have Unexpected Consequences, The Gazette, Dec. 16, 2012.
Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.