Ask Terry Questions Should my wife and I jointly own our home?

Should my wife and I jointly own our home?

By Terry Savage on June 22, 2023 | Wild Card

My wife and I each have an estate plan. Since my wife’s net worth is double mine, our planner recommended we put the house in my name, rather than have it jointly owned, in order to better balance our estates. We did that, but my wife thinks she heard you say on the radio that it would benefit a married couple to have a home listed in both of our names. True, or did she misunderstand? (This is our primary … and only … residence.) Thanks!

Terry Says

What kind of “planner” was this? A lot goes into this decision, and I’m not privy to the original purchase price of the home, and how it was titled. And whether this is a second marriage, with issues around leaving money to adult children or grandchildren.
What’s the point of “evening up” your assets — unless you’re way over the taxable threshhold of $12.9 million (Federally) or $4 million for Illinois?

Your wife could gift you her share of the house without tax implications, but there are better ways to even things up. Is her goal to make you rich when she dies, but to leave all her assets to her own children? Then she should pay for a life insurance policy on her life, with you as the beneficiary! That would make you instantly rich upon her death!

Or she could just leave you the house at her death — easily done with joint ownership — since you do not have a joint revocable living trust. Then you’d have the house –to either sell or live in.

But just putting it in YOUR name, means she could lose some benefits of owning her share of it in terms of capital gains exemption if she inherits it but it was not HER primary residence for 3 years before your death. This was some screwy advice — or maybe I’m missing some pieces.

Something is missing in your story– Please write back with more details. And this time work with an estate planning attorney — not a financial planner who hasn’t looked at your entire situation. Or maybe you left out some significant details.



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