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If only I am being sued can they seize checking account thats in both me and my spouses name?

Fremont, MI |

I am being sued for a funeral bill for my mother that i cannot pay in full. i have to go for a debtor examination. I know since my husbands name isnt on the suit i dont have to disclose his assets but can they seize a checking account that is in both of our names?

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Yes.

    Once the account is seized, it is possible that your husband could have some or all of the funds released if he could prove the amount of money in the account that was hi and not yours. This is difficult to prove and would involce paperwork showing the source of the funds.

    It also depends on how the bank ahs the account set up, meaning what does the signature card say. A bank signature card determines legal ownership of the funds. if it is simply a joint account, the a creditor of one signer on the account can garnish or levy the account. Then the other signer could, if he acted quickly, file papers in court showing his beneficial ownership of funds.

    Generally, when one spouse has an unpaid judgment, you should have separate accounts at separate banks.

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  2. Yes. Your spouse would then have to go to court to prove that some of the money was his.

    Mr. Goldstein is a Virginia-licensed attorney only. The information is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation. Answering this question does not in any way constitute legal representation. Contacting Mitchell Goldstein or the Goldstein Law Group does not constitute legal representation, nor is any information you provide protected by attorney-client privilege until otherwise advised.

  3. A garnishment directed to a bank will attach to any account on which your name appears. If you are on an account jointly with your husband, they can still go after that account, and potentially take the entire balance, since as a joint owner, you have the right to withdraw all the funds in the account. Your husband may have grounds to object to such a garnishment, if the only funds in the account come from him. If you both deposit to and withdraw from the account, the judge may still allow him to protect a portion of the funds. You may want to see if some payment arrangement can be set up, to avoid future debtor's examinations.

  4. In Danielson v Lazoski, 209 Mich. App. 623; 531 NW2d 799 (1995), the court held that there is a automatic presumption that joint owners are equal contributors to the account. Thus only half of the bank account is garnishable where the debt is against only one of the co-owners, as it is here. However, If the non-debtor co-owner actually owns more than half of the account, though, he or she may prove this to the court to avoid wrongful garnishment.

    Now you don't really want to be doing that, so just remove your name from the account until you've come to some settlement arrangement.

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