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Tip of the Month
The Problem

Mom was recently widowed.  She has three children whom she loves dearly, and, like most moms, she wants them to have equal shares of her estate following her death.  With the help of her lawyer she makes a Will that provides that her three children will share in her estate equally.  One year later Mom is in her bank and she chats with the manager, who recommends that she "add" a child to her accounts.  Mom does so and now all of her bank accounts are  jointly titled in the names of Mom and ONE child only.  Mom has just disinherited her other two children from the money in the bank accounts.  By making the one child a co-owner of the accounts, the child will become the sole owner after Mom's death and the other two children will not receive any of the money in the accounts.

Some Solutions

Since Mom had a Will there probably was NO reason to add a child to the account.  If the child was added to the account so the account could be used by the child to help Mom, a simple solution would be to give the child a Power of Attorney on the account (the bank has the forms) and although this gives the child access to the account, it does not make the child a co-owner of the account with Mom.  Another solution would be to add all three children to the accounts.   

WARNING

Be mindful of the fact that any person who is an account owner with Mom or has Power of Attorney has the SAME access to the account that Mom has.

NOW THE LEGAL DISCLAIMER - LIKE YOU WERE NOT EXPECTING ONE

The Tip of the Month IS NOT intended to give you legal advice. It IS intended to make you generally aware of some of the common problems and mistakes I have seen during my many years of practice.  DO NOT make decisions of any kind based exclusively on what you read in Tip of the Month.  Any decision that has legal consequences should only be made after you have discussed your particular situation with competent legal counsel.


Gary P. Urtz