One of the aims of estate planning is to ensure that your heirs do not need to spend an excessive amount of time in probate court. It is no secret that probate can particularly take years, and during this time your heirs will not have access to their inheritance.
However, not all means of avoiding probate are equal. Many consider putting an adult child on the deed to their home in order to avoid probate. However, this is almost always a poor decision. Doing so can put your home at risk if your child ends up in a financial or legal bind.
Why would this avoid probate?
If there are multiple people on the deed to a home, then those people own the home in “joint tenancy.” Joint tenancy comes with the “right of survivorship.” This means that if one owner of the home dies, it automatically goes to the other owner. Putting an adult child on your home’s deed would mean that the home passes to them instantly upon your death without going through probate.
What would be the issue?
Putting your adult child on the deed to your home gives them the same “owner status” that you have. It does not matter that you owned the property for longer. This means that if, for example, your adult child is delinquent on taxes the IRS may put a lien on your property. If your adult child divorces, you may end up with their ex-spouse as a co-owner of your property.
It is a much better choice to put your property into a living trust if you wish for it to avoid probate.