For many years, attorneys and estate planners have been cautious of joint tenancies where substantial wealth is involved. A jointly owned estate poses a number of tax problems and ownership difficulties which often frustrate the intentions of the creator. The primary advantage of holding property in joint tenancy is that the cost and publicity of probate are avoided. To secure this benefit, the owner loses many rights to the property and may suffer disastrous tax consequences. Basically, the use of joint tenancies prevents the contributing tenant from efficiently planning the disposition of his property. If he should die first, the surviving tenant has uncontrolled power over the property. Thus, the property may be diverted from the contributing tenant's intended beneficiaries. The second major objection to the creation of joint tenancies is the adverse estate tax consequences which may result. If the contributing tenant dies first, the entire value of the joint tenancy will be included in his estate and probably taxed again in the estate of the surviving joint tenant. Because many potential tax and nontax disadvantages of joint ownership may be alleviated through a proper severance of the joint tenancy, this article discusses the voluntary and involuntary acts which will constitute a severance of real and personal property in Nebraska.
Richard C. Schmoker,
Estate Planning and the Severance of Joint Tenancies in Nebraska,
43 Neb. L. Rev. 587
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol43/iss3/6