April Harris Jackson

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It is well known that probate in Tennessee can be costly and has the potential to be very time-consuming. Many look for loopholes in the system as an attempt to shorten or eliminate the probate process. Some believe that adding their child’s name to their bank accounts or even placing their child’s name on their property deed can help speed the process along. While this strategy might give your child quicker access to money and could potentially help transfer ownership of your property faster after you pass, as a Davidson County estate planning lawyer, I warn that it is likely to cause headaches in the long run. Here are just a few things to consider before taking this action.

  1. Your Child Has a Say in Important Decisions

By adding your child’s name to your deed, you have named them as a joint owner of the property. This creates a need for both parties to be in agreement regarding the sale or refinance of said property while you are still alive. The potential for intense family conflict exists if you and your child are not on the same page.

 2. Sharing Creditors

Before deciding to add your child to your assets as joint owner, you must have a comprehensive understanding of your child’s credit situation. If they are in financial trouble, you could be at risk if you add them to your accounts. That’s because when you share ownership of assets, your child’s creditors could come after your assets for payment. Or, if your child is sued or gets a divorce, half of your assets could be up for the taking!

3. Your final wishes may not be honored.

Having your child named as joint owner of your assets makes them the sole owner when you pass. Regardless of any verbal agreement with your child as to how you want your assets distributed, they will have complete authority over such decisions.  This could be a problem if you have other children or you have specific wishes about how you want your assets split up when you are gone. Legally, your child who becomes the sole owner of your property does not have to share a penny with anyone else.

The good news is that there are safer and more efficient ways to help your children avoid probate without encountering some of the drawbacks and problems detailed above.  Consider talking to a Davidson County estate planning attorney before taking the step of adding your child’s name to your assets. We can help you get started. Contact us at (615) 846–6201 to set up a consultation with April.