I’m Peter Jordan, I’m an attorney with the Jordan Balkema Elder Law Center servicing families in northern Michigan.
Clients sometimes come in to my office and ask me if it’s a good idea to add their children’s names to their assets, to their home, to their bank
accounts, and to their stocks. Generally I recommend that they not put the children’s names on the assets.
I explain to them that there are four distinct problems with doing that.
Let’s talk about the house. When you add the children’s names to the house in effect you have lost control of the house. You cannot sell it, you can’t mortgage it, you can’t lease it, you can’t do anything with that house without the consent of the children. Clients always say to me, well but I’ve got good kids and those kids will sign if I ask them to.
Another problem is if one of the children get divorced. If they should get divorced one of the assets that they own is an interest in your house.
And you may soon own your house with your future ex son-in-law or ex daughter-in-law.
Another problem is financial problems of the children. If one of the children gets sued their creditors can now latch on to their interest in your home.
Another problem is what I call unintended beneficiaries. Let’s assume that we have mom and dad and a son and a daughter and all of their names are
on the title to the home.
If the son and the mother and the father pass away, the daughter now owns that property. Usually when I ask mom and dad how
they want the assets to be distributed they tell me “well… equally to my
children and if one of my children is deceased then his share will go down to his children.”
In this case the entire interest of that house and all of the other assets that are joint with the children will go to that last child, in this case the daughter. Nothing will go to the children of that
So for those reasons I generally recommend that clients not make their assets joint with their children.
What makes our firm unique from other law firms is that we offer a one-hour free conference for you to come in and talk about your particular situation and how we can help you.
I look forward to meeting with you.