My husband recently passed away, and I'd like to add my daughter as joint owner of my bank accounts. Many of my friends, who are not tax experts, have told me that she may have to pay income tax on it, or that I may have to file a gift tax return, or that there may be other tax implications. How should she and I handle the tax impact of adding her name to my bank accounts?
Especially since you just lost your husband, I would sit down with a lawyer to review your estate planning and ask these questions. Many offer free consultations. Adding someone to an account is considered a gift unless you intend to just add them for convenience (like a power of attorney). Therefore you may need to file a gift tax return to report the gift but unless you are worth a heck of a lot of money you will not owe gift tax. However this is also tied to the death of your husband in some ways and can get more complicated. One thing I will tell you is that it is certainly not INCOME to your daughter because it is a gift not income. The bottom line is that gift implications may be the least of your issues - there are better ways to pass assets and also think about things like your long-term care needs than just adding kids. Please see an estate planning lawyer for the best course of action.
This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature.
Well, there could be a number of implications to adding your daughter as a joint owner. It depends on specific facts and circumstances which pertain to how you set things up. It is possible that there could be an income tax issue, gift tax issue, or even estate tax depending on the amount of money involved.
The big issue you face is not a tax issue, but an estate planning issue. Remember that when you pass away, the ownership of a joint account passes entirely to the joint owner. If you have other children, they will be legally cut out. What most people do is set up an individual bank account with the child as a power of attorney and have named beneficiaries of the account (banks call this taker on death "TOD" accounts).
Bank salespeople get a commission based on the number of accounts they open. Joint accounts count as two commissions, while POA/TOD accounts only count as one. It shouldn't be a mystery as to why the banks push people in to types of arrangements that will cause problems later on.
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