What is a joint account holder’s liability?

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What is a joint account holder’s liability?

Ny mother dies 3 months ago without a Will. I was on her bamk accounts. The bank is now asking that I repay the overdraft protection amount. Do I have to? I have asked the bank for a copy of the form stating I would be responsible for the debt. Haven’t seen one yet. The amount is $4000 right now.

Asked on November 28, 2012 under Estate Planning, Indiana

Answers:

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I cannot answer your question with the information you provided.  Being "on the account" means that you are a joint owner of the account with your mother.  However, it does not mean you are responsible for your mother's debts.

What is missing from your question is how the account became overdrawn by $4,000.  If you wrote checks or made other debits to cause this, then you are responsible for it.  If your mother did it, you probably are not responsible.  If the overdraft occurred because of automatic debits to the account, and you could have stopped the automatic debits, you may be responsible for them.

I suggest that you take every action you can to stop further overdrafts.  Then you should consult an attorney in your area about your responsiblity for the existing overdrafts.  If you had something to do with causing the account to be overdrawn, you may be responsible for it.  In some instances, causing an overdraft could be a crime, so I suggest you take care of this rather than ignore it and hope it will go away.


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