banner-image

Probate in Joint Accounts

It is incredibly important to make sure that the future is planned for. That is why a last will and testament is an invaluable document that everyone should have drafted. Probate is a process that takes place when someone has died, and where the will and testament is proved and assessed.

It is incredibly important if you are a joint holder in a will of someone who has recently passed to contact a Probate lawyer to explore any and all options you may have moving forward.

Joint Accounts for Convenience

Often, items that are in a joint account pass by operation of law to the joint surviving owner. One of the misunderstandings about joint accounts is that, as they age, many individuals place a joint owner on their accounts simply for convenience, not understanding that there are certain consequences to this action. In many cases, when it has not been recorded on the signature card that the account has been made joint for convenience only, a decedent who joined another on his or her account for convenience purposes may have unintentionally made that joint owner a beneficiary to his or her assets. The assets of that joint account may pass by operation of law directly to the joint owner.

In many cases, when it has not been recorded on the signature card that the account has been made joint for convenience only, a decedent who joined another on his or her account for convenience purposes may have unintentionally made that joint owner a beneficiary to his or her assets. The assets of that joint account may pass by operation of law directly to the joint owner.

Access to Accounts Prior to Probate

Probate is the proving of a last will and testament. This term is often used to describe the court procedure for the administration of an estate. In more general terms, it is the legal process that takes place after a person dies. This is where the last will and testament is proven and accepted as a valid formal document in the court of law.

A person may maintain access to a joint account even before he or she probates the will. This depends on how the account was established. However, a true joint owner can sometimes access the account or continue to access the account during this time period, as a joint asset would pass outside of the probate administration procedure.

Ownership of Property After a Joint Owner Dies

The ownership of property after a joint owner dies is dependent on how the account was established. However, in the event that the account has a true joint owner, it is possible that the assets of the account will pass by operation of law directly to the joint owner.

Any issues that may arise are extremely dependent on the banking or financial institution and how the account was established. Each financial and banking institution has its own procedures for the process by which an individual may claim a joint account.

Benefits of a Probate Lawyer

A person who is a joint account owner may wish to seek out an estate and trust attorney to determine whether the account is rightfully his or hers and if he or she can use the account. Depending on the manner in which an account was established, a person may be able to access an account as a signature authority only, but may not technically be permitted to withdraw assets from the account. An estate and trust attorney could assist a person who has a joint account with a deceased person with making that determination.