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Joint Accounts – Who Gets the Money When One of the Co-owners Dies?

In our day and age, elderly people often place their children as joint tenants on their bank accounts and other like assets. In this video, the lawyers discuss the law and address issues like the presumption of a resulting trust and the presumption of advancement.

Transcript

Imagine an 88 year old woman puts her Million dollars in her bank account. Into a joint account with her son. What happens when the lady dies? James, who gets the money?

— The Son.

Why?

— Right of survivorship, joint account.

Good. And the answer is, not so good. Why not? What presumption does the court make? That there’s a presumption of a resulting trust. So what we’re faced with is that courts have recognized the reality that elderly people need help with their money. Sometimes they can’t pay their own bills without the help of their kids. So when a mother or a father puts a bank account or a property in joint tenancy with a kid, there’s a presumption that it’s really being held in trust for the mother or for the mother’s estate, for that matter.

But we’re missing a word. What word are we missing when we talk about that presumption? Rebuttable. It’s a rebuttable presumption.

That means, while the court’s starting point is a presumption that this money was held in trust for the estate and has to be divided in accordance with the Will. You can prove if you’re the person who’s on the joint account that that’s not what the parent intended. Now this is a complex area of the Law. You’re involving the presumption of a resulting trust. You’re involving the presumption of advancement

There are cases, like Pecore and Madsen, at the Supreme Court level that deals with it. So I wouldn’t want any of you guys to jump to a conclusion. But I want you to remember the presumption of a resulting trust. And it’s what kind of presumption? Rebuttable.

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This blog is not intended to serve as a comprehensive treatment of the topic. It is not meant to be legal advice. Every case turns on its specific facts and it would be a mistake for the reader of this blog to conclude how it might impact on the reader’s case. Nothing replaces retaining a qualified, competent lawyer, well versed in this niche area of practice and getting some good legal advice.
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