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Can my sister legally withdrawal and spend money from accts shared jointly by my incarcerated father?

Tampa, FL |

My dad was convicted and sentenced to 71 months in federal prison last Thursday (Nov 1st). As part of his sentence, the court also entered a money judgment of $2.1 million. He was also ordered to pay $1,318,892.83 in restitution, and a fine of $100,000. We now have to forfeit all assets that my dad has acquired during that time of illegal activity (properties (house, office building) and cars).
The current issue I have now is that my dad is on 3 accounts with my sister that total about 50k. My sister's car is also jointly owned with her and my dad. Are we entitled to these money and asset? Could we safely go and withdrawal and spend the 50k?
Should I obtain legal counsel to represent my sister and I in the forfeiture? Is it worth fighting for the contents of the house, money and cars?

My dad's building is worth about $1million, however $500k of the equity is indebted to someone else. He also has a lot of expensive printing equipment in the office building that could sell for possibly another $300k or more. Our house is worth about $450k. We have 3 cars, 2001 acura, 2008 VW Jetta, and a leased Hyundai. Last question, could I take over a lease from someone that is incarcerated?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. Yours is a complicated situation and you do not want to risk compounding a criminal matter by possibly violating a court order and incurring additional liability. Get with an attorney right away before taking any action whatsoever. It is worth purchasing an hour or two of attorney time to make sure that you do not act improperly.

    James Frederick

    *** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.


  2. Yes she can. Owners of jointly held accounts can legally withdraw any money in the account - they are joint owners of the entire. Property held jointly can be used by either joint owner. Further, even if she could not use the bank assets or car - your dad would have standing to sue, not you.

    You should find counsel to represent your FATHER during the forfeiture process. If he already has an attorney, he would be the one to watch over the forfeiture. Whether it is "worth it" depends on the dollar amount to attorney fees ratio - and what you can save from the government through legal representation

    Matthew Johnson phone# 206.747.0313 is licensed in the State of Washington and performs bankruptcy, short sale negotiations, and estate planning in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, King and Pierce counties. The response does not constitute specific legal advice, which would require a full inquiry by the attorney into the complete background of the facts and circumstances surrounding this matter; rather, it is intended to be general legal information based on the limited information provided by the inquirer; it This response also does not constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship, which can only be established after a conflict of interest evaluation is completed, your case is accepted, and a fee agreement is signed. Johnson Legal Group, PLLC


  3. Both attorneys offer sound advice. However, this situaiton cries out for retaining your own attorney to see what your sister can do here. A general forum should not be relied upon here with such severe issues at stake. Get counsel immediately before taking any action.

    LEGAL DISCLAIMER Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is sjfpc@comcast.net , his website is www.sjfpc.com. and his blog is <http://frommtaxes.wordpress.com/> Mr. Fromm is ethically required to state that the response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. Also, there are no recognized legal specialties under Pennsylvania law. Any references to a trust, estate or tax lawyer refer only to the fact that Mr. Fromm limits his practice to these areas of the law. These responses are only in the form of legal education and are intended to only provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that if known could significantly change the reply or make such reply unsuitable. Mr. Fromm strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to ensure proper advice is received. By using this site you understand and agree that there is no attorney client relationship or confidentiality between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction, who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances and with whom you have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question or omitted from the question. Circular 230 Disclaimer - Any information in this comment may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.


  4. While I agree with the other attorneys answering this question, I would advise you to sit down with a lawyer and review the titling of all the joint assets immediately. Also, I advise you have representation for yourselves and your father in the forfeiture. The decision to "fight" for the contents of the house, money and cars in one that only you and your sister can make but I would prefer you make that decision with legal representation.

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