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Problem with brother being both executor and joint account holder on deceased mother's checking account.

Colonial Heights, VA |

My brother seems to think that the money left in the account is now his, (along with an insurance policy, that he was named as beneficiary), He was only put on the checking account as a matter of convenience as power of attorney. Now it seems as though personnal assets of our mother's estate will have to be sold to pay cost such as probate, income taxes, etc. I was under the impression that the money in the checking account and the insurance policy was there to be used to pay her final expenses. I know that she thought this way. Any recourse to this situation, or are the rest of the siblings just out of luck.

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Attorney answers 2


Most likely, the rest of the siblings are out of luck. The account would not have needed to be made joint, if there was a POA. That is one of the reasons to have a POA in the first place; so the ward's assets can be accessed, if needed, in order to pay expenses.

You have two possible avenues to challenge this. 1) If your BROTHER changed the account into joint ownership while acting under the POA, then this would have been inappropriate and a breach of his fiduciary duties. You could then ask the court to overturn that designation. 2) If your mother's Will specifically makes reference to the accounts and expressly states that they are being made joint, only for convenience purposes, then you may be able to have the account proceeds put back into the estate. I think the insurance is a totally lost cause, UNLESS your brother had the beneficiary designations changed to his name, acting under the POA.

You should consult with a probate litigation attorney to investigate this further to see if you have any basis for challenging this.

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.


I agree with Mr. Frederick as to the account. Unless you have strong proof that his name was added only for convenience, he is entitled to keep the assets in the joint account, since is on the account. note that you must be able to prove his name was only on the account for convenience by clear evidence, under Virginia Code Section 6.2-608, which is a fairly high standard. It is not absolutely necessary that the evidence be in the will, but you would need much more than just speculation. As to life insurance, that is not governed by the will, and instead the benefits are paid to the persons listed on a designation filed with the insurance company. The life insurance would only be paid to the estate if the designation of beneficiary form listed "my estate" or something similar, otherwise, life insurance is not paid to the estate.

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