What controls – a Will override a joint bank account?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What controls – a Will override a joint bank account?

My mother and sister had a joint owned bank account with death benefits. Both passed away in December, my sister first and then my mother. I am the executor for my mothers estate, my sister has an executor of her own. The bank determined that the proceeds from the joint account became my mothers sole property as my sister died first. The bank had paid the proceeds to me and closed the account. Now my sister’s executor and his lawyer have brought out my sister’s Will that was made after the joint bank account was established and it states that my mother was on the account as a convenience only with the express understanding and direction that all assets be distributed according to this Will. They say my mothers estate has no right to the proceeds from this joint bank account and I have to turn them over to them. Who is right?

Asked on February 15, 2018 under Estate Planning, Washington


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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If the bank is holding to their interpretation then I would stand by their findings.  Your sister's statement in her Will is self-serving.  It was not in any way validated by anything Mom wrote anywhere was it?  The problem becomes when they attempt to sue your Mother's estate for the funds, which would be costly and foolish.  But you will have to defend it.  Good luck.

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