You want the best for your children, of course, so you would like for them to avoid legal complications when you’re gone. So you’ve hit upon a way for them to avoid Florida probate on your estate and dodge its time-consuming complications – or so you might believe.
The plan you’ve come up with is to make your oldest son the co-owner of your bank account. In that way, the account passes directly to him when you pass, and has the added bonus of enabling him to take care of your bills and deposits if you become incapacitated.
A Florida estate planning attorney far south of Brevard County wrote recently that the plan, while well-intentioned, has a number of serious flaws.
The first problem: when you die, that money in the account becomes all his all alone. That means that even if you have an estate plan that distributes your assets, he can keep the money. Would he do that? You might well believe there is no chance of that ever happening, but what if he hits on hard times and feels as if the money is his last way out of a jam? It could lead to irreparable harm to his relationship with his siblings.
Also, if he is sole owner of those funds, the account is vulnerable if he is involved in a traffic accident or divorce.
If your goal is to for your kids to avoid probate, talk to an experienced estate planning attorney who knows of better ways to do it. In that way you can protect at the same time your assets, your son and your other children.