My mother added me as a co-signer on her bank account in case I need to access money to pay her estate, etc. I have never touched her bank account. Someone told her that if she dies or I do, the account will be seized and we will have to pay taxes on getting the money back.
Is that correct? Should we just place in our wills the rights to joint survivor ship to avoid this? or is it best that I remove myself. I certainly don't want my mom to fight the courts to get her money back if I die.
Estate Planning Attorney
No-if the asccount is "OR" or with right of survivorship-it will automatically go to the survivor.
The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.
No it's not true. A joint account with right of survivorship means that if either of you dies, the other automatically gets what's in the account.
If you have wills, see your estate lawyer to make sure your testamentary documents will accomplish what you want them to accomplish.
Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments. If you want to hire me, please contact me. Otherwise, please don't expect a further response. We need an actual written agreement to form an attorney-client relationship. I'm only licensed in CA and you shouldn't rely on this answer, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it's impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.
The true effect of bank account cards can only be determined after reading them. I am aware of more than one situation where the bank employee told the customer that setting up the account would have one effect and then after a death it was determined that the account did not have that effect at all. This is due to poor training of bank employees. In Texas the ability to establish a bank account as a joint tenancy with right of survivorship is done with the account card, not with a Will. So, get a copy of the account card (front and back) and take it to a lawyer to review. There is a related status to JTWROS and it is called Payable on Death or POD. It is often preferable to JTWROS.
DISCLAIMER: This is not specific legal advice and does not establish an attorney/client relationship.
Please go see an attorney about your estate planning needs. These kinds of questions, and the misinformation out there in the general public, make it really difficult to know what to do without professional advice.
In general, though, if the account is held as joint with right of survivorship, the survivor automatically gets the account, REGARDLESS of what is in the Will, even if the Will says something different. You have to get the bank to make it a JTWROS account, though. Note that doing this, though, can result in unintended consequences, like giving your creditors access to your Mom's money if you default on your debts.
Again, talk to a professional.
I am licensed only in Texas. Offering information of a general nature in response to a question is not intended to be legal advice in your state.
I agree with my colleagues in relation to this account. I would merely add that this is an excellent time to have your mother visit with an estate planning attorney, while she still has capacity, to make sure that all of her estate planning is complete and in order. She should, for example, have durable power of attorney forms for health care and financial matters, in addition to whatever other documents she has. This will allow you to make decisions for her and handle her affairs, if she ever becomes incapacitated. If you do not have these forms, you would need to go to probate court to be appointed your mother's guardian/conservator, if she ever lost capacity.
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