If my mother’s money is deposited in both our names, is her money safe from garnishment if a creditor tries to collect a debt from me?

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If my mother’s money is deposited in both our names, is her money safe from garnishment if a creditor tries to collect a debt from me?

My mother is 92 years old and unable to handle her financial affairs. We want to protect her money from being garnished in the event that I am sued for credit card debt. We are having financial problems at this time.

Asked on March 2, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, unfortunately, this would not protect her money. A creditor can reach a debtor's portion of money, even if it is in a shared or joint bank account. Moreover, it puts *your* money at risk, since you might then have to prove what share of the money was yours and not hers--i.e. the creditor might try to take more than, strickly speaking, was your mother's.

Putting it solely in your name wouldn't help either--if a creditor can show that the money is really hers, they could still reach it; and you would also be setting yourself up for additional liability, for attempting to defraud a creditor.

Consider: if it was this easy to keep money away from creditors, eveyone would do it.


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