Since the explosion of estate planning as a hot topic and hot button issue, many have come to the conclusion that it is just easier to do joint ownership instead of a power of attorney. And, for some, this may be the best option, but even for those people, one still likely needs a POA.
When joint ownership can be beneficial
Estate planning is complicated, but joint ownership can be an easy way to cover a few situations. First, if one is very young, like just turned 18 or soon thereafter, putting one’s parents as a joint owner on their accounts can be very beneficial. For one, it allows for parents to easily pay bills, add money to accounts and, if the young person should pass, it will more easily allow their parents to close out their affairs (i.e., shutdown accounts, pay-off bills, liquidate bank accounts, etc.).
Second, for similar reasons, joint ownership is a great option for spouses since both already share their assets and liabilities anyway. This just makes it easer on a spouse to maintain life if their spouse should become incapacitated or die.
For all other times, a POA is usually the better option
The biggest downside toe joint ownership is that the joint owner is an owner of that account or asset. This means that they can treat it however they want, regardless of how it affects the original owner. On the other hand, if one had selected them as a POA, they would not have access to anything until a triggering event, and they would have to act in the best interests of the one that selected them. This means that have a fiduciary duty.
For Silverdale, Washington, residents trying to decide on what is right for planning their estate, asking for help is always a good solution. After all, everyone’s situation is different, and what is right or reasonable in one situation, may not be right for everyone.