If a parent put a child on their account to pay bills for them, are they legally intitled to survivorship when the parent passes?

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If a parent put a child on their account to pay bills for them, are they legally intitled to survivorship when the parent passes?

There was $50,000 and 10 surviving (8 children and 2 grand children)The person who had their name on the account to pay the bills claims that they are intitled to all of the money left. She also had quite a few savings bonds but we were never provided with the total value of those. I also would like to know what recourse there is for the children who were denied the right to their mom’s ashes or participating in spreading her ashes? Then 2 nephews and 1 sibling participated in secret and we found out afterwards. It was emotionally devastating for us as they also cremated her in another state.

Asked on December 17, 2012 under Estate Planning, Maine

Answers:

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

This is a common misunderstanding that turns into a problem.  In most states (including Florida), a bank account in two names is owned by those two persons and only by those two persons.  If one person passes away, the other owns the account.  End of story.

It is also generally true that the creditors of one "owner" can come after the money in the account.  Both of these reasons are why I recommend that people do NOT place another person's name on their bank accounts "for convenience."  There are better ways to achieve convenience without the risks of joint ownership.

You will have to check with a Maine attorney to be sure, but I bet the person who had their name on the account is correct that he or she owns everything in the account.

Savings bonds are a different matter.  Savings bonds often have a beneficiary.  If so, they are payable to the beneficiary.  If the bonds have no beneficiary and are listed in your mother's name, then they will be paid to your mother's estate.  If the bonds are listed in two names, then they are payable to the other owner.  You will have to see the bonds to know how they will be paid.

I cannot advise you about the secret cremation of your mother.  I am very sorry this happened.  You can check with an attorney in the state where your mother died to see if you have any recourse at this time.

I suggest you consult a probate attorney in the state where your mother died.  This attorney can tell you about your rights and take any action that you and your siblings deem appropriate. 


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