Ask the Attorney: Should I use a joint tenancy to avoid probate?


My husband and I own some hunting land up north Minnesota as joint tenants.  After his passing, I became the sole owner.  I am thinking about adding my sons to the deed so we would all be joint tenants. I heard this will avoid probate when I die.  Is a joint tenancy a good idea?

If your only concern is avoiding probate, transferring the property to a joint tenancy with your sons will accomplish this and is a commonly-used tool, but there may be a better way to accomplish the same result.

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In the News: Toll of Caring for the Elderly Increases

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about the increasing cost of caring for elderly family.  The article* can be found Here.  According to a U.S. Health and Retirement Study, “the percentage of adult children taking care of their parents has tripled since 1994, with nearly 10 million people who are 50 and older doing so in 2008.” The article addresses is the financial toll on care providers which averages $303,880 per person (age 50 or older) in lost wages, pensions and Social Security benefits over their lifetime due to leaving the work force early to care for a parent.  But more importantly, the article sheds light on some of the hidden non-monetary stresses associated with this type of care giving.  The U.S. Health and Retirement Study called for more services to assist caregivers as the number of caregivers in this category is only expected to rise.

The article is an important reminder that careful planning goes beyond having a will and protecting assets.  At Bloomgren Hanson Legal, we encourage our clients to use their conversations with family about estate planning as an opportunity to also discuss the broader issues associated with aging and end of life planning.

*A thank you to Attorney Nick Halbur for bringing our attention to the article.

Protecting Your Children Through Estate Planning

As a parent you naturally care for your child(ren)’s basic needs: feeding,  bathing, providing shelter and clothing, and comforting through scraped knees and bad days. What may not come as naturally or as easily, but is just as important, is protecting your child(ren) in the event the unthinkable happens, and your children are left without either parent to care for them.

While statistically, this is unlikely to happen, the reality is it does happen. Without the proper planning the results are often far from what you would want for your children should they end up in such a vulnerable position.  These results can include: (1) a judge who doesn’t know you or your children deciding who raises your children; (2) a long drawn out custody battle ensuing between your remaining friends and family; (3) the court and statutes controlling your children’s finances until your child(ren) is 18; (4) your 18-year-old(s) receiving all of the money remaining in your estate in one lump sum;  (5) the accumulation of expenses related to the oversight and reporting requirements imposed for court-supervision of your children’s finances.

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