Should one seriously consider whether any co-ownership arrangement is right for them?

Positively. Those co-owning property seldom contemplate the potential liabilities they can incur from their co-ownership. Nor do they always consider whether their co-ownership aids or impedes the protection of the assets from their personal creditors.

Consider again the example of two business partners who title investment property in their personal names as tenants-in-common. If someone gets injured on the property, who has liability? How could these co-owners have more intelligently titled their property to reduce their personal exposure? What if one co-owner loses a lawsuit? What more could – and should – have been done to safeguard the debtor-partner's interest in the property?

Or consider an elderly mother with a middle-aged daughter. The mother wants to leave her savings account to her daughter when she dies and also wants her daughter to have access to the account in the event the mother becomes disabled. So she sets up a joint account and titles her bank account in both the names of herself and her daughter as joint owners. Mom logically reasons that when she dies the money will automatically pass to her daughter avoiding probate. It sounds so sensible. But does mom realize the potential pitfalls and liabilities of a joint bank account? What if the daughter is sued or has her own creditor problems or divorces? Poof! A healthy chunk of the savings accounts would then go elsewhere. You see, people don't think much about these things.

Married couples often see co-ownership as their simplest, most natural way to title their marital property, but they too, must ask themselves the same questions: Will co-owning their assets increase their respective liability? Will they get more or less lawsuit protection? And will co-ownership help or hinder their other estate planning objectives?