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pam hill


Banking Law - joint checking accounts

My mother and I had a joint checking account.
Both of our signatures were on the signature
card at the bank. Joint signatures were not
required for transactions.

Funds from each of us were comingled. This
arrangement existed for several years. My mother
died in May, 2001. I am the executor of my
mother's estate. The recorded will names myself
and my three brothers as beneficiaries of her estate.
We are to share equally in the proceeds of her estate.

My brothers are now claiming that I spent some of my
mother's money before she died and they are looking
at legal means to recover some of the money that was
spent prior to my mother's death.

The only tangible assets are her house and personal
property. The personal property has been divided
equitably and with the agreement of all parties to the
will. Now, all that remains is the sale of her real
property and the division of the proceeds.

What, if any, are my brother's legal rights to try and
recover money that was dispursed from the joint checking
account prior to my mother's death?



An anonymous call to a bank in your state could clarify the meaning of 'joint tenancy'. Perhaps that varies from state to state.

My condolences upon the great loss and the situation which you are facing.

This is mostly just my opinion coupled with experience, so if someone with greater training and expertise differs, perhaps they are in the know to a greater degree than I am. When one of the tenants in common on a joint account dies, the survivor on the account immediately becomes the OWNER of the account. Either of you had the right to deduct any amounts, including closing the account at any time from the date you signed together as joint tenants. Those funds were 100% yours upon the death of your Mother. Your brother's names should have also been placed on this account also, if that particular asset was intended to have been divided. If you were told by your mother otherwise, then you may feel a moral obligation to follow her wishes. Possibly because your mother feared the sons wouldn't have been as honest and reliable as you, she may have feared they would do what I said joint tenancy means.......any owner can deduct any amounts or close the account.

I would suggest closing the account immediately. It is my opinion that you are not obligated to share it with anyone whom you do not choose to. Joint owners are tenants in common. I KNOW that my sister would have taken half of any account on which my Dad and I were joint tenants if she had been able to do so..... I knew that I had no right to the accounts that his name was on with hers. She had already conned him to sign three family houses to her. All material assets were totally claimed by her, although that was done illegally, since there was never a will filed. She claimed he had 'gifted' his entire estate to her.....and I know better. I was never estranged from him, was a responsible and reliable daughter and my sister was a near opposite. She continues to be irresponsible, on drugs and has been in many questionable circumstances. She even told our father that I was not his bio. child! How low can you go? Needless to say, there's no communication between us and it has been five years.

[Edited by Grammari on 06-16-2001 at 12:37 PM]

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