I'm sorry to hear you are having to deal with this, and having to involve your family.
The good news it, that while it depends on what the judge in your
district thinks, in my district Courts usually ignore joint bank accounts if the debtor can show that their name is XXXXX XXXXX the account for inheritance or mental incapacity and the account was NOT funded with the debtor's money nor did the debtor use the account.
Under the facts as you laid them out, you would be fine in my district, though New York may have a different view of these types of accounts.
Worst case scenario, even if the court decides it is half yours, with your half-interest in the $23,000 being $11,500, then you may be able to increase the amount unsecured creditors receive through your Chapter 13 plan by $11,500 which would allow your sister to keep all of her $23,000. This might result in around a $200/mo increase in your monthly Plan payment to the trustee (assuming you are in a 60 month Chapter 13 plan). Of course you will want to speak to your attorney about this if it comes to that, but normally you can set up a Chapter 13 plan to keep you (or your sister) from losing any assets (including a bank account) so long as the unsecured creditors receive enough money in the Plan. Again, bring this up with your attorney if the court decides that half of the account belongs to you, but hopefully they will ignore it once you lay out all the facts.
I hope this helps and a positive feedback is always appreciated if this was useful to you.LEGAL NOTICE: I am only licensed to practice law in certain state(s) and I cannot give legal advice to someone who does not reside in a state in which I am licensed, nor shall anything I say in the above answer or elsewhere on this site be deemed legal advice, even to someone who resides in a state in which I am licensed. Fees I receive for answering questions are paid for information, not for legal advice. This forum is designed to provide general information only, and information herein is not warranted to be correct or applicable in any way since laws may have been misinterpreted herein, since laws change from time to time, and since the impact of those laws on any particular situation varies. The information presented in this site shall not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Persons accessing this response are encouraged to seek independent legal counsel in their jurisdiction for guidance regarding their individual circumstances. Do not take any action or inaction based on information presented herein since it is informational and may not be accurate or applicable to you; it merely attempts to give you a basis of knowledge to help you formulate questions to ask a legal or other professional in a face-to-face meeting in your jurisdiction. Joseph Ross does not hold himself out to be a specialist or expert in any area, regardless of assertions made by any third party, and any implication of being an expert or specialist herein is made in error. I hope the information presented above is useful to you. Answer above is (c) Joseph Ross. All rights reserved.