If you were entering into a contract of some kind involving a lot of money you would probably not take any shortcuts. Yet, many people look for shortcuts when it comes to estate planning.
There are certain ways that you can arrange for assets to wind up in the hands of someone that you will be leaving behind quite simply. One of these would be to make an individual the co-owner of your property. It could be your place of residence, your bank accounts, brokerage accounts, etc.
When you do this the person that you choose owns the property along with you. As a result, at the time of your death the co-owner that you chose would still retain ownership of the property. Some people consider this arrangement to be an estate plan.
There are some things to consider if this sounds like a good idea to you. One of them is the fact that the assets that you share with the co-owner could be targeted by former spouses, creditors, and/or claimants seeking satisfaction from the co-owner.
If you go this route, how about the other people in the family? How will you be providing for them? You can tell the co-owner to do this or that, but he or she is not legally required to do anything at all.
Then there is the possibility of the person that you added to your bank accounts taking personal liberties with these funds.
Arranging for the transfer of everything that you have earned throughout your life to your family members is a pretty significant act. You would probably do well to take it seriously enough to create a proper estate plan with the benefit of professional guidance.
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