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Estate News --- Observations of a Trust and Probate Attorney

Monday, September 21, 2015

It Is Not Always a Good Idea To Add a Child to Your Bank Account

Probate Lawyer Considerations Before Adding a Child to Your Bank Account 

When working with families dealing with probate on a loved one’s estate, probate lawyers often find themselves answering a variety of questions about how to avoid probate in the future. There are a whole lot of tools at the disposal of an probate attorney when it comes to protecting an estate, and each has its pros and cons.

One method that older individuals sometimes consider to keep some assets out of probate is to have their adult children added as “joint owners” of their bank accounts. Essentially, this means that the account, and its contents, becomes the property of not only the parent, but also anyone else named as a joint owner. The intention is that once the parent passes away, the child(ren) can immediately access the money without it ever having to go through probate.

This approach can work, and it’s possible that a probate lawyer will recommend it as a viable option for passing on assets. On the other hand, he or she might not because adding others to your accounts can lead to other problems. These don’t affect every individual, so you will definitely want to discuss it thoroughly with a probate lawyer in. That said, some potential pitfalls should be considered.

For one thing, every joint owner will have full access to the account. Even while the parent is alive, the adult child(ren) could choose to spend however he or she wishes with no legal repercussions. Sadly, many parents have lost their entire income or savings when their children have taken advantage of the situation. To take it a step further, unless every single child/heir is listed as a joint owner on the account, whomever has been named could theoretically keep all of the money without splitting it with siblings.

Another very real concern is that both the parent and the child could also suffer should one of them be in debt. Creditors could demand money from anyone with their name on the account, regardless of who put the money in there. So, if the parent’s Social Security check was deposited but the child (who was a joint owner on the account) owes back taxes, it’s possible that the Social Security money could be seized to pay the debt.

Again, these are just matters to take into consideration. It’s up to you and a good <insert city> probate lawyer to determine what will work best for your particular circumstance and situation.

 


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Brock, Robinson & Associates assists clients with Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, Special Needs Planning, Pet Trusts, Probate & Estate Administration, and Family Business Preservation in Chino, California as well as Chino Hills, Inland Empire, Pomona, Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, Montclair, Diamond Bar, West Covina, Covina, Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Claremont Fontana, Riverside, Colton, Corona, San Bernardino, Redlands, Orange, Brea, Yorba Linda, Fullerton, Hacienda Heights, Eastvale, Norco, Mira Loma, Alta Loma, Upland, Rialto, Highland, Loma Linda and Grand Terrace in San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County and Orange County.



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