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Ask Law Educator, Esq. Your Own Question
Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 116829
Experience:  Experienced in Trust and Succession Law, including Louisiana Laws
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I'm okay how are you? I need help with understanding how

Customer Question

I'm okay how are you?
I need help with understanding how it works when your mom dies without a will in the state of FL but she had my brother listed on her joint checking account so he assumes he gets to take all her money and not share it with me.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
I am afraid that absent a will to the contrary, when a person dies "intestate," the assets of their estate are divided amongst their legal heirs equally after all bills of the deceased are paid. The problem comes in as to what is considered legally part of the estate of the deceased. Any insurance policies with a named beneficiary or any accounts that are held in joint tenancy or with a payable upon death status I am sorry to say are NOT part of the decedent's estate. So if there was a bank account that was held as joint tenants, then when one joint tenant dies the surviving tenant gets ownership of that account in its entirety and that account never becomes part of the estate that is divided in probate.
So, I am sorry to say that if he was a joint tenant on the account he would get whatever is remaining in that account unless she had a will to the contrary.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I also need to add that he told me he spoke to an attorney after her death and that because his name was on the checking account, it shouldnt go to probate but he has to wait a certain amount of time. She had listed his house in FL as her address so all her medical bills are coming to him; he indicates he has to wait to see if he has to pay any of those before he gives me anything. but it's been 6 months and he won't say how much he will give me and how much she had exactly to begin with. He claims she verbally told him he can have all her money which I know is 100% untrue.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your reply.
He is correct, because his name is ***** ***** account, no probate is needed for that account. If he is going to give you anything from the rest of the actual estate, he does have to pay off all of the bills before he can distribute anything from her estate.
He can take what is in the account, but anything that his name was not listed on as joint tenant or beneficiary is part of her estate that would have to be divided equally once the bills are paid off.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks! So do you think he is lying to me about having to wait until he finds out if he has to pay her medical debt before he can divide the money from her checking acct? Is there any chance anyone can come after her joint checking account for her medical debt? She didn't own any other assets (She rented her home, car was sold before her death).
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your reply.
He has to wait a minimum of 30 days to make any distributions from the estate itself and he also has to send notice to all of the creditors of her death. So he is not lying he has to wait to pay the creditors, but legally once he does so he does not have to share what is left with you from that bank account if he does not want to do so as I said above.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
thanks, ***** *****:
So, if I'm understanding correctly; the joint bank account could never be part of her "estate" that has to be used to pay off creditors, medical bills, etc - correct? So when he told me he has to wait to see if he has to pay the medical bills that are coming to his house (she listed his address as her own) then he really does not have to worry they will come after the joint account correct? (she did not own any other assets to be divided except some small household goods which he already donated most all of). Does he have to let the medical bills that are coming through to his house know that she has passed away and that he is not responsible for her debt? The hospital should know she passed away as she died at the hospital but he is getting all kinds of bills from the hospital, etc. Even though when my mom lived in a different state with me, she had my name listed on her joint account as well. If I can prove that, does it help me at all prove that she didn't mean for one of her 4 children to receive all her monies from her account? Is there any risk for him if he has already spent the money from the joint account and hasn't let the bill collectors know of her death? I assume not since you have indicated that money is not part of the estate to be used to pay debt. Thank you.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your reply.
Yes, that is correct, because the account is joint tenants with right of survivorship, it does not become part of her estate and it goes directly to the surviving joint tenant.
He does not have to worry about creditors coming after the money in that account, as it is not considered a part of her estate and the debts of the estate are payable out of the assets belonging to the estate upon her death. This is no different than if there were an insurance policy with a named beneficiary, the beneficiary takes the policy without the proceeds of the policy being subject to creditor claims.
How did she have your name listed on the joint account as well, if you were a joint tenant on that account then you too share in that account.
Unfortunately, without a will and by listing people as joint tenants, that removes that account from the intestate probate process meaning it would not be divisible by the probate court.
If he spends the money in the joint account the creditors cannot make claims against him as that money belonged to the surviving joint tenants. If your name was on that account as a joint tenant then it must be split with you evenly.

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