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  • Michael Gaston

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Robert and Linda Williams are married and have three children. They purchased their three-bedroom home in Los Angeles some 30 years ago. The couple is happy that there is no mortgage on the property. Their home is currently valued at one million three hundred dollars. They would like to pass their property to their children. Their neighbor told the couple they should place their kids on their deed as joint tenants because upon their death the property automatically passes to the children by operation of law without the need for probate. This process seems great because the Williams’ would not need to hire an attorney to draft a living trust. Robert and Linda proceed to place their children on the deed of their home and feel they have accomplished their objective. That is until they receive a phone call from their Donald, their son.


The son informs his parents that while driving “rear ended” a car carrying the Jones family. Unfortunately, Donald’s liability far exceeds bodily injury and property damage coverage. The Jones retain an attorney who informs them that Donald has an interest in your home as evidenced by the joint tenancy deed. Now your property is subject to a lien equal to the joint tenancy interest of your son. Although creditors cannot touch any percentage of the property owned by the joint tenancy owners they can force a sale to collect from the son’s share of the property. Creditors usually execute the judgment by requesting the court to partition the property, severing ownership into individual units according to the percentage ownership.

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