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Porter Ramsay Blog

Wills and estates: Risks of adding kids as joint asset owners

Parents never stop being parents and as such always want to do what’s best for their children, even when the kids become adults. Aging British Columbia residents thinking about their wills and estates may also be thinking it might be a wise idea to put their assets into joint ownership with their kids. That could include the family home, which, experts say, may not be the best idea.

Some people may choose to do this because they believe it will save their kids from having to pay a probate fee after they die. The fee is to get a will court-certifie, which gives proof that a named executor has the authority to act on behalf of the estate. In British Columbia, the probate fee is 1.4% for estates greater than $50,000. But it might be easier to pay the probate fee rather than having to deal with potential risks of putting assets into joint names.

The first risk is having to deal with a potential taxable gain on those assets. Secondly, it may cause family squabbles between siblings, especially if one or more weren’t added to an account. Once those assets are in joint names, they’re subject to those people’s creditors. People might find there may be much better options available upon discussion with an estate planning lawyer.

Each person’s situation is unique. Wills and estates documents aren’t always cookie cutter and a British Columbia lawyer may be in the best position to advise a client on things such as probate fees and other issues surrounding estate planning. The complexities of estate planning may not seem as daunting with legal counsel.