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Joint Bank Account After Death: Who Gets the Money?

Updated: Jun 9

Houston Estate Planning Attorney
Joint Bank Accounts After Death

When a loved one dies, the last thing on people’s minds is what will happen to their joint bank account. But, like it or not, money matters must be handled for estates and assets to be passed down correctly. The question “Who gets the money?” often leaves survivors at a loss.


This article dives deep into joint bank accounts after death and outlines who should receive the funds contained within them. It looks closely at legal documents, state laws, financial institutions, and other relevant agencies that govern how these situations are handled.


Understanding Joint Bank Accounts


A joint bank account is a type of bank account that is opened by two or more people. This type of account allows all account holders to deposit and withdraw money, write checks, and conduct other banking transactions.


In most cases, each account holder has equal ownership of the account and is responsible for any debts or overdrafts on the account.


Joint bank accounts can be useful for couples, business partners, or family members who need to share access to funds. However, it’s important to carefully consider the terms and conditions of the account and ensure that all account holders understand their rights and responsibilities.


Who Owns the Money in a Joint Bank Account After Death?


If all parties in a joint bank account are deceased, sorting out financial affairs becomes muddled. But if at least one party is still alive and holds legal ownership over the assets within an account, they will get to keep them—or at least have control over how they’re distributed.


The surviving co-owner can access their partner’s funds in a joint account. This means that even if there’s no formal agreement stating what should happen with the funds when one person dies, the remaining account holder may take full control per banking laws.


However, this doesn’t mean that other stakeholders, such as family members, won’t try to claim rights over those monies. Things like wills or trusts must also be considered depending on where the deceased partner falls in relation to estate planning before passing away. A joint right of survivorship account controls estate planning. All these factors make navigating through complex decisions surrounding joint accounts tricky.


Common Rules and Regulations Regarding Joint Bank Accounts and Death


Joint bank accounts come with various rules and regulations for dealing with death:

  1. Rights of survivorship — Generally if one account holder passes away, the remaining partner has full access to the money in the account.

  2. POD (Payable On Death) — This designation allows you to name someone else as a beneficiary on your joint account so they will receive all funds upon each owner’s passing without going through probate court.

  3. Bank policies — Banks may also have specific policies regarding how you should treat joint accounts upon death depending on state law and individual agreements between each party involved in the transaction.


It’s important for those holding joint bank accounts to understand these common rules and regulations before entering into such an arrangement. This ensures that everyone knows exactly what will happen should tragedy strike.


How to Determine Who Is Entitled to the Money in a Joint Bank Account After Death


To make sure that funds are distributed correctly, it is important to understand who is entitled to the money.


To decide who gets the money from a joint bank account after the death of all owners:

  1. Check for any existing beneficiaries listed on file with the bank or financial institution holding the funds in question.

  2. Determine whether or not state probate laws apply and take precedence over previously set beneficiary designations made during life.

  3. Consider non-probated accounts where if no beneficiary is listed, remaining monies could potentially go directly to those named as survivors on legal documents such as wills.


With this information, all parties can rest assured knowing that their rights regarding distributing a joint bank account after death are fully protected!


What to Do If There Is No Surviving Party Entitled to the Money in a Joint Bank Account After Death


If there is no surviving party entitled to the money in a joint bank account after the death of all account holders, the funds in the joint account may be considered part of the deceased account holder’s estate. In this case, an executor or administrator must be appointed by a probate court to access the funds and close out all financial accounts.


The executor must prove that the deceased owner has died and submit paperwork (Letters Testamentary, for example) to close the joint bank account. Other documents might also be required depending on the specific circumstances and laws governing estates within each state.


Work with an experienced estate planning lawyer to ensure all legal requirements are met, and proper procedures are followed when closing and distributing a joint bank account after death.


Call Your Legacy Legal Care™ Today


Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney is crucial if you have concerns about the distribution of funds in a joint bank account after the death of an account holder. Our law firm specializes in complex estate planning issues, including the distribution of assets in joint accounts.


Our team can review the terms and conditions of your joint account and develop a customized estate plan that addresses your unique needs. Don’t leave the distribution of your assets to chance.


Contact us today to schedule a consultation with a member of our Your Legacy Legal Care™ team to ensure your wishes are respected, and your loved ones are provided for.


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