When I was a kid, my parents would get letters sent to them and a guy named JT TEN WROS. I had no idea who this JT guy was but I always figured it was a friend of my parents or perhaps the English name of a relative. It was always tricky growing up because I never knew anyone’s name (you don’t call relatives by their name, or even an Uncle Joe, you called them by their “rank,” i.e. fifth uncle) so I figured it was just someone’s name. While I don’t think anyone has the last name of “Wros,” you never know what immigration officers can write down as you pass through immigration, right?
It wasn’t until later that I saw the guy appears on my statements, specifically my wife and my Vanguard statements! How’d he get there? Who is this JT guy and how the heck did he get on our account?
Yeah… it wasn’t until later that I learned JT TEN WROS was an acronym. It stands for Joint Tenant With Right of Survivorship. It just means that it’s a joint account and both people hold title to the assets in that account. Full ownership is transfered immediately upon the death of one of the account holders. You don’t have to be married to have an account set up in this way and any two people can do this, they don’t need to be related.
If you think this is a clever way to get past gift taxes and estate taxes, it isn’t. If you and your child joint own an account and you die, you’ve just made a gift of one half of the account’s value to your child, subject to gift and estate taxes. I’m sure it gets a lot trickier so be sure to consult a professional.
Either way, JT TEN WROS is not a person.
What common misconceptions did you have about money as a kid?