How do I handlea checking/savings account if one of the account holders dies?

If a person has a checking or savings account and another person joins that account and the first person dies, can a third party put a claim on the money on that account or does the survivor take it all? Also, do you have to pay tax on the money that is in that account?

Asked on August 22, 2011 Virginia

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

So the parties created a joint account by adding the other party to the account or was the other party added as just a signatory (the right to sign checks) on the account?  Generally speaking, when two people open a joint account there are rights of survivorship on the account.  That means that if one of the parties dies then the other party has the right to the money.  But that may not always be the case and I can not tell here what type of account the two people you are talking about ended up with in the end.  Now, tax issues can be separate from inheritance issues.  Yes, the money in the account can be considered for tax purposes as part of the estate of the decedent (half of it, remember?).  Please seek some guidance here from an attorney in your area.  Good luck.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.