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Can I press charges against the person who stole the money from my bank?

Chicago, IL |

Someone committed bank fraud stealing money from a joint bank account in my husbands name who is deceased. This account is currently active and my only account, I just never had my husbands name removed. The account is in his name and I am added as his spouse. Can I press charges against the person who stole the money from my bank?

I have gathered information from the bank about what was purchased, the dates that it occurred, and who did this, I am just worried that I can't press charges because I never had my husbands' name removed from the account after he passed away years ago. So all of the purchases were made under my deceased husbands' name. I was told that I may not be able to press charges because I never had his name removed from the account.

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Attorney answers 4


If the account is a joint bank account with a feature called "right of survivorship" and your husband died, you own the money in the account. Most "joint" bank accounts do have this feature.

Irrespective of the survivorship feature, you can do either of the following:

If you are concerned about having the person prosecuted as a criminal, you can contact the police and report the crime. You do not need to be the owner of property to report a theft.

If you are concerned with recovering your money, contact an attorney that deals with fraud and conversion. However, be forewarned that it is difficult to recover stolen money since criminals usually spend it quickly. An attorney will be able to fully investigate your case and present your options to you.

Though we strive to provide accurate legal information in our answers on AVVO, our answer should not be construed as legal advice and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. Our firm only forms attorney-client relationships by written agreement signed by both our firm and the client. Please seek an in-person consultation with an attorney immediately as almost all legal matters are time sensitive and failing to meet deadlines can result in adverse consequences.


Whoever told you you could not press charges because you never had your husband's name removed from the account was very wrong. Joint tenancy accounts with rights of survivorship mean that upon the death of one of the tenants, the account remains the sole and exclusive property of the surviving tenant. You need to report this fraud immediately - to the bank and to the police. Then seriously consider closing that account and moving the funds to an account in your name so this can never happen again. Best wishes to you.


I agree with the others. Assuming the account transferred to you as the surviving joint owner you absolutely have the right to press charges against anyone who wrongfully took money from the account. Good luck!

DISCLAIMER. The above post is provided solely for general informational purposes. Any information in the above post is NOT intended to be specific legal advice and should NOT be relied upon as such. NO attorney-client relationship is formed on the basis of the above posting and I strongly urge you to seek the advice of competent legal counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.


Pressing of charges is not a term in Illinois. Although it has a general meaning to ask for criminal proceedings to be commenced against a criminal defendant. In Illinois there is no fundamental right to a criminal complaint. They generally follow when the states attorney or the United States Attorney has adequate evidence to advance a charge. You have the right to provide that information by filing a police report or a report to a federal investigative agency. Here it is likely that your bank will have completed a SAR report to report the suspecious activity that resulted in your loss. However, the dollar amount may influence the US Attorney and the FBI as to whether or not they will pursue an investigation. (if you loss was comparatively small then its like trying to fill the ocean with a spoon. If however it was a large loss the FBI will be all over it. Its a bad thing to steal from a bank or a deposit at a bank.

This response is not intended to establish a legal relationship between you and my firm.