For the most part, people involved with estate planning want to avoid probate. There are many reasons for this: probate can be time-consuming, expensive and the records are public.
However, not all strategies to avoid probate are good ones. Many seniors think that adding a child to the deed of their home will help the child avoid probate when the senior dies. This is true, but that does not make this a good estate planning strategy. According to In Charge Debt Solutions, adding a child onto your deed is almost always a bad idea.
How can this help avoid probate?
People who are considering this strategy to avoid probate depend on the benefits of joint tenancy. With joint tenancy, if one party that holds a stake in the property dies, the property automatically goes to the surviving party. This is the “right of survivorship.” A property owned in this fashion will not go through probate.
Why is this a bad idea?
Putting your child on the deed to your home makes them a current owner of your property. You will not be able to sell the home or take out a home equity loan without their permission. Additionally, if your child owes back pay to the IRS, the IRS may put a lien on your property if your child’s name is on the deed.
This can also be problematic if your child divorces. Since their name is on your property, that property will usually count under marital assets. This means that you may end up with your child’s ex on the deed to your home.
Putting your child’s name on your deed is not a good idea. A better answer is a revocable living trust.