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Father made permanent estate planning error

Illinois residents planning to transfer property titles as part of their estate plans should do so with caution. It's critical that an estate owner clearly understand all possible implications of the estate planning process before designating someone as co-owner with right of survivorship on a property title. An elderly man in another state learned the hard way that some estate planning decisions are irreversible.  

The man acted on the intention that making his son co-owner of his property would protect his estate from hefty probate fees down the line. He failed to take several factors into account, however. One important issue he overlooked is that by choosing to make his son co-owner rather than placing his property in trust, he was making a permanent decision. He also assumed his relationship with his son would always be amicable.  

In fact, the man and his son wound up refusing to speak to each other when their relationship took a bad turn. Not long after, the man took steps to have his son's name removed from the title of his property. The man sent word to his son, asking that he transfer the title of the property back to his father, which the son refused to do. 

The situation led to litigation and the man was surprised when the judge ruled that his previous estate planning actions had made his son permanent joint owner of the property; therefore, the ownership was irrevocable. This situation serves to underscore for all Illinois property owners the importance of seeking experienced guidance in the estate planning process to avoid such problems. An experienced attorney can explain the difference between joint ownerships and trusts and advise a client as to which course of action best fits his or her particular needs and goals. 

Source: movesmartly.com, "Court Rejects Elderly Father's Bid to Remove Son From Property Title", Bob Aaron, Accessed on April 10, 2018

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