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How Does The Title to Assets Impact How Those Assets Pass When I Die?

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  1. When a person makes a Will, he or she assumes that his or her assets will pass in accordance with the terms of that Will upon death.  That is not true for all assets.  In fact, the way assets are titled can often “trump” the disposition of assets set forth in the Will.
  2. Assets can be held in the name of a person and one or more others as “joint tenants”.  Joint tenancy assets pass entirely to the other joint tenant(s) – regardless of what a person’s Will directs.  Financial accounts and real property can be held in this manner.  If a financial account, the account statement will say “joint tenancy” or “JT”.  If real property, the deed will include the words “joint tenants” or “joint tenants with right of survivorship”.  Note that titling real property as joint tenants can result in a taxable gift.

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