What to do if my brother had a joint checking account with our mother who recently passed away and now he’s emptied the account?

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2013

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What to do if my brother had a joint checking account with our mother who recently passed away and now he’s emptied the account?

I’m the executor. I informed him that I would pay the bills out of her account and to not do anything until I let him know what to do. He withdrew all of the money from her account and put it into his personal account. He claims that he paid the bills with it but hasn’t shown me proof. What do I do?

Asked on March 13, 2013 under Estate Planning, Texas


Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In most states, joint checking accounts belong to the people whose names are on the account.  In Florida, your brother would own the account upon your mother's death.  Your mother's creditors, you, and the other heirs ordinarily have no claim to anything in the account.

You should consult your probate attorney about what to do.  If you do not plan to open an estate (because your mother did not leave sufficient assets to justify that expense), you can call a local probate attorney for advice.

I cannot say enough times that people should not do what your mother did.  Every time I speak anywhere, I advise people NOT to put someone else's name on their bank accounts as an owner.  There are better ways to have another person assist with banking than giving them everything in the account.

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