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Joint ownership may not mean complete asset protection

When deciding how to attend to estate details, Massachusetts residents have many options they could utilize. Because there are a number of routes parties could follow when creating their estate plans, it may be wise for individuals to ensure that they understand how helpful certain tools are. Without the correct information, some parties could be using an option that is not as beneficial for asset protection as they think.

For instance, some individuals may think they can protect their assets and avoid detailed estate planning by simply creating joint ownership of their property. However, if parties do not create that ownership with right of survivorship for the property, those assets would still have to go through probate. With the right of survivorship, the surviving owner automatically obtains the property.

Additionally, if individuals hope that joint ownership will protect assets from potential creditors, they may be holding on to false hope. Because the person still has control over the property, there is a chance that creditors could attempt to obtain that property due to outstanding debts. Therefore, it may be more prudent to utilize other planning options in order to protect property from potential creditor attacks. 

Though joint ownership can come in handy when utilized correctly, this option does not eliminate the need for additional estate planning. Asset protection is often an important part of Massachusetts residents' plans, and therefore, they may want to better understand the options that could most benefit them. Discussing their concerns and goals with experienced attorneys could help interested parties build the best plans for their estates.

Source: paulsvalleydailydemocrat.com, "Myths about joint ownership, wills", March 29, 2017

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