In this article, we’ll discuss creditor’s access to joint tenancy assets of the deceased person and the surviving tenant(s). We’ll also discuss a few drawbacks and limitations to be aware of when considering joint tenancy with respect to creditor’s claims.
Joint tenancy (with rights of survivorship) is extremely common between spouses and in nearly all cases creditors very little to no rights against property held in joint tenancy between the deceased person and the joint tenant. Upon death, the decedent’s interests transfer directly to the surviving tenant, escaping probate and the legal reach of the creditors. This may sound like joint tenancy is a done deal with little to worry about upon death, however, it is not full proof. Below are a number of restrictions and limitations associated with joint tenancy assets:
Generally, joint tenancy is a safe and common way to avoid probate and real property upon the death of one of the joint tenants. It is important to note that if any of the joint tenants owes a debt of any kind, credit card, liens on property, etc, they’re assets, while living, are still subject to claim by creditors in order to resolve the debt when alive. The specifics of a will and/or trust will determine what kind of access the creditors have after the death of one, or all, of the joint tenants. Hence the importance of having an ironclad trust in place. You can learn more about joint tenancy assets, property, and the probate process by checking out the article, Illinois Probate: Does All Property Need to Go Through Probate?
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