What happens to a joint checking account after the death of one of the owners?

I had a joint checking/savings account with my mother who passed away 2 weeks ago. She had a reverse mortgage payment that funded before she died of $23,000 added to the checking account. The bank has stated that I am now the sole owner of that account and the funds in it. My sister is the executor of the estate and there is a will leaving the assests to be divided equally between us. As the bank account is now in my name only, does the money in that account qualify as part of her assets that need to be used to pay off her hospital bills, or is it exempt?

Asked on March 7, 2012 under Estate Planning, Washington


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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  Generally speaking, most joint accounts have what is known as a survivorship feature to them meaning that the funds pass one to the other upon the death of one of the joint holders.  So it is not included in your Mother's estate.  It became yours upon her death. But how you wish to handle the situation is up to you.  Good luck.

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