BANK ACCOUNTS: THE POOR MAN'S WILL - By Gordon R. MacKenzie
When Mrs. Surette made her son a joint holder of her bank account,
she probably thought he would take care of her when she no longer
could. She did not expect that she would have to sue her son to
get back the money he withdrew from the account. She said it was
a loan. The son said it was a gift. Fortunately for Mrs. Surette,
the son could not prove her intent to give him the money and had
to repay her (Surette v. Surette).
If you are considering a joint account, be sure your joint account
holder is trustworthy. Remember, if you don't have enough money
in your account to pay your expenses, the joint account holder could
not pay your bills. Appointing a power of attorney for finances
lets you give someone access to all your assets to pay your bills.
A joint account gives you a chance to beat the tax man if you give
the joint account holder a "right of survivorship." Just as a joint
account cannot replace a power of attorney for finances, it cannot
replace a will as an estate planning tool. Leaving everything to
the joint account holder to avoid probate taxes may be fine with
the joint account holder, but the rest of your family may not think
much of the idea.
A joint account gives you interesting options when planning your
estate. They should be used carefully though and as part of your
overall plan and not as a substitute for it.
This article is presented as general information only and is
not to be relied on as legal advice. You should contact your lawyer
to see how the law applies to your circumstances before any action