If I have joint custody of a parent’s bank account i.e. I am a co-signer on the account and there are no other assets involved, is there any need for my parent to have a Will?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

If I have joint custody of a parent’s bank account i.e. I am a co-signer on the account and there are no other assets involved, is there any need for my parent to have a Will?

If not, is it better to get rid of an existing will to avoid probate costs? In other words, is the will going to legally require me to go through probate whether I want to or not or can I simply ignore probate because I am already signed on to the bank account?

Thank you!

Asked on August 25, 2015 under Estate Planning, California


M.H., Member, California Bar / M.H., Member, California Bar

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

You need to ascertain the exact form of ownership to your parents bank account.  Are you a mere co-signer or are you a joint account holder?  Generally speaking, a joint banking account is a non-probate transfer, i.e., this asset will not have to go through probate.  Joint accounts and pay on death accounts are very popular probate avoidance vehicles in California.
In California, a custodian a person in possession of an original will must lodge the will within 30 days of the decedent's death.  The lodging fee is around $50.  
To answer your question, whether probate is appropriate or not depends on the size of the probate estate.  If the probate estate does not exceed $150,000, then an heir of the decedent can execute a Cal Probate Code 13100 affidavit to avoid a formal probate.  Assets exceeding $150,000 and assets not excluded under Cal Proba 13100 will have to go through formal probate.
However, a will does not address one very important topic  what if your parents become incapacitated?  A will does not help because it's only valid at death, not incapacity.  Many people with wills have to be conserved in a conservatorship proceeding.   Conservatorships can be very expensive.
I hope this answered your questions. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption