Can I take the money from a joint account that my name is on after the other person on the account has died?

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Can I take the money from a joint account that my name is on after the other person on the account has died?

Asked on May 4, 2011 under Estate Planning, Connecticut

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  Often when accounts are held jointly and one party passes away, the other party assumes that there is what is called right of survivorship in the funds that are left.  This often happens when a parent adds a child to an account to help manage the funds.  But many times the other beneficiaries of the estate scream foul and litigation ensues surrounding the funds i the account.  Here you have given very little information as to certain factors that could sway in your favor, like were the funds deposited from both of you or just the party that has died?  When there is a clear documented intention of the deceased that the joint holder of the accounts should get the money upon his death then the decision is an easy one. But not knowing more here guidance is difficult.  Speak with an attorney in your area.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you may. The assets in a joint bank account (money) automatically becomes the property of the surviving account holder when the other account holder passes away. It does not pass by will (or intestate succession, if there is no will); does not need to be probated or administered; and the heirs of the decedent have no claim on it. If it truly was a joint account held by both you and another, that money is yours, just as if you had predeceased, it would be his or hers. If there are any paperwork formalities that might be required, your bank should be able to guide you on them; though again, if it's a joint account, you should be able to withdraw money from it now the same as you always could. (You'll need to do some paperwork to either close the account or take the decedent's name off it.)


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