If my name is on mom's checking account is her money safe from the courts after she dies?

My Mom does not have a Living Will. She has a POA,-my brother- an Advance Medical Directive, a DNR order, and a Will. My name and my brother. Mom is in the hospital and rehab w/ a broken hip. She will hopefully go back to assisted Living once she can walk again. She is 88. I am trying to figure out her finances before she dies and was told that if my name was on her checking account her money would be safe from the courts and we could proceed with her wishes outlined in her Last Will & Testament. I want to make sure I am doing the right things to keep her estate out of the hands of lawyers and courts.

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I also have my name on my Mom's checking account and was told that in the event that she dies the money would just be like it was mine and I would then use it to pay any expenses then share what was left with my sister. My Mom will be 89 in November and is in good health except for the mild dementia. She still lives at home alone, her choice. My sister and I drive her wherever she needs or wants to go. I am also her POA and she also has an out of hospital DNR and a regular DNR, My sister and I both know my Mom's wishes in case of her death. She has a Lifeline button that will detect if she should fall and notify the authorities and me. We have done everything possible to keep her safe and in her own home and will continue to do so as long as possible. My exceptance of her decline in mental health has been the hardest to do but with the help of a my sister and a book titled "Loving Someone Who Has Dementia" by Pauline Boss, I hope to help Mom have the best of the rest of her life that she so deserves. Find yourself an Eldercare Attorney to her help with any legal questions that you might have.

I have the same situation and recently asked attorneys if I was doing anything that might cause problems later. This is what they said: Because mom can withdraw the total amount of funds at any time, the IRS does not yet consider this a gift. Any amounts you withdraw are considered a gift. I'd be careful to not use your name on withdrawals, even if you intend to spend the money on mom. The account will be included in mom's estate for tax and creditor purposes unless you could prove you deposited 1/2 (Or, whatever percentage.) of the money yourself. If you would die first, it would be included in your estate; except for the fact mom could prove she deposited the entire amount. The two major problems with this method of estate "planning" is that if you owe someone money (Either a normal creditor or because of you injuring someone.), the funds would be available to pay them from the account. Then, you would have a gift tax return if the amount was large enough as well. The other problem is that the money will go to the joint "owner", even if the will were to state differently on the death of the joint owner. (We presume will be mom.) The other suggestion of course, was to ask a lawyer in your mother's state as all states are different.

You really should not have your name on your Mom's checking account. It's best to have a separate checking account and to use a durable power of attorney for finances - that way bills can be paid by the POA. Another problem with this is if Medicaid monies were ever needed, your name is on this account and that could have an effect on whether or not she would qualify. I'm not an attorney but it's best to have a trust rather than just a will - the will can be put INTO the trust. A trust does not have to go through probate in most states, so you may want to look into that. Best wishes on the recovery of your Mom.

I assume estate taxes are not an issue, since that only affects those with more than $5 million in assets. Gift taxes similarly. Thus, I wouldn't worry about gift or estate tax issues related to joint accounts, though amitebird is technically correct. I think you're most concerned that you can have access to the funds immediately following your mother's death, and a joint account will allow you to do just that. Note, however, that her will only covers accounts in her her sole name, e.g., not joint accounts. So if her will says "All my assets go equally to my children," and you are the only one on the bank account with her, then the money in the joint bank account will pass to you alone and not to your siblings. If this is what your mother intends, that's fine. If not, it could cause family disputes. As for whether the creditors of your mother can reach the joint bank account after her death, note that this varies from state to state. In many states, the creditors are simply out of luck and cannot attach the account of a deceased joint owner.

You should make sure that the checking account has the right of survivorship in case one of you dies or else it will be frozen and you can't remove anything from it until the will is probated. At any rate, the will will be in the courts and the courts will will insist that all bills and debts be paid out of her funds. Having your name on it won't help. If she needs Medicaid at some point , they will take it no matter if your name is on it.

My sisters and I are on all of the accounts. My sister died recently and the money on these joint accounts were no problem at all. Her next of kin took the death certificate to the bank and took her name off. I guess if they were shysters they could have claimed the money, but Mother is the principal owner of the account. How would you pay the parent's bills if you are not on the account?

i have a couple of observations. a checking account should be a joint account with survivor benefits. simply having your name on the account may not suffice. my second observation; a va advocate told me the other day that as we apply for aid and attendance they will also prepare some kind of documents for us to completely evade probate. i told her a will was in place, she said that would not suffice and that probate costs time and money. sorry i cant tell you what shes proposing but im guessing the civilian equivalent could be done by anyones attorney. when i do find out whats required ill sure let everyone know..

if you want to keep it out of the hands of lawyers and courts AFTER Mom dies, then you need the advice of an estate planning lawyer BEFORE she dies! It is money well spent when you have everything in order beforehand and you are not struggling with conflicts and debts and probates when you are grieving. Depending on the amount of money that exists a Trust might be your best avenue. But again, get the right advice for your state from a professional.

The word "avoid" is probably better than "evade". Nothing you are likely to be doing is shifty or illegal -- it's just saying "everything is in order, we have everything taken care of, so there is no need to put a 1 year freeze on the estate". Nothing illegal, nothing immoral, just pre-organizing things hopefully LONG before someone dies.

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