If my brother died and his Will leaves all of his property to me, how does that affect a joint bank account with he and his wife?

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If my brother died and his Will leaves all of his property to me, how does that affect a joint bank account with he and his wife?

Asked on January 5, 2016 under Estate Planning, New York

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It doesn't. A joint bank account with his wife would be held a "joint tenants with rights of surviorship". What this means is that upon your brother's death his wife would have become the sole owner of the account; it is 100% her property and not an asset of his estate.
Additionally, his wife may also have rights to some of your brother's estate. This is becasue of something known as a spousal "elective share". Basically, it means that 1 spouse cannot disinherit the other. Exactly what his wife may be entitled to will depend on the jurisdication that he died in; you should review specific state law.
At this point, you may want to consult directly with a probate attorney.


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