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MShore, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 25285
Experience:  Negotiate, Draft, and Review many complex commercial agreements each year.
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My father and one of daughters had a joint checking account

Resolved Question:

My father and one of daughters had a joint checking account at Wachovia Bank in Buncombe County, North Carolina. He has recently passed away. What responsibility does that daughter have to use that joint checking acct to pay our father's outstanding bills, or can she legally use that money for her own personal use (she's currently been using the acct to pay off our father's bills, as well as for her own personal non-estate related expenses)? She says that the joint checking account listed her with "right of survivorship." One site I looked at said that any monies in the account go directly to her and can't be touched by probate or the estate. Another interpretation I've read is that the monies must be used to pay off my father's outstanding debts, plus any court-related expenses and taxes, then go to the estate (in which case it would be shared equally by the surviving daughters).
Thank you
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  MShore replied 6 years ago.
Thank you for the post, the assets in the joint checking account are those of your father's estate, to the extent that those funds are necessary to pay his outstanding bills. The remaining siblings would be wise to wise to take the matter to probate so as to stop the sister from liquidating the account by using the money for her personal gain.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Just to be clear---she should not be spending ANY of the money on herself until such time as all his outstanding bills, and any court fees, or taxes on his estate, are paid? I believe she's currently using the money for things such as paying for her rent and cellphone.
Expert:  MShore replied 6 years ago.
Correct, she should not spend the money in the account for her own purposes until there is an accounting to determine which funds belong to her. Then the funds that are to be credited to the estate, should be withdrawn and placed in the estate.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Sorry to be a pain, but this is true even though the joint checking account listed her with "right of survivorship." I thought that mean any funds went directly to her as her own personal money that neither the probate or the estate could touch.
Expert:  MShore replied 6 years ago.
Her representation that it has right of survivorship must be proven before it can serve to permit her to liquidate the account. She would have to present the death certificate to the bank in order to have sole access to the funds in the account.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
She did present the bank w/ a copy of the death certificate. Given those facts, can she legally use whatever funds are in the joint account for her own purposes w/o being required to spend any of those monies for probate, our father's bills, his taxes or estate?
Expert:  MShore replied 6 years ago.
she can unfortunately.
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