Was it legal for my sister to withdraw moneyfrom my dad’s checking account after he passed away, if it was a joint account?

UPDATED: Aug 16, 2011

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Was it legal for my sister to withdraw moneyfrom my dad’s checking account after he passed away, if it was a joint account?

My dad had joint account with my sister. He passed away and she withdraw the funds without the death certificate. He passed away in Puerto Rico and she withdraw the money in NY. I have the death certificate.

Asked on August 16, 2011 New Jersey


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The fact of the matter is that joint account holders have equal rights to an account. So whether or father was dead or not, your sister could have withdrawn the money out at any time (at least legally). She would not have had to have presented the death certificate. Unlike assets gifted in a Will, a joint bank account would not have to pass through probate; it is not considered to be part of the deceased's estate. Consequently, what your sister did was perfectly permissible, at least under the law. However the family may or may not view her actions this way.

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