Is there anything I can do to be included in my mom's estate? 31 Answers as of June 16, 2014

If someone dies and they have a will, but put one (and only one) of their children on the account as a joint owner (JTWROS), do the other children have anything they can do, or does the joint account ownership trump everything including the will? Is there anything that the other children can do?

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James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C.
James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C. | James T. Weiner
Unfortunately if she put her funds in an account as a JOROS (joint owner with right of survivorship) that supersedes the will unless it happened while the deceased was under undue influence a long hard expensive fact intensive battle that is not usually worth the expense of the fight.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/16/2014
Stephens Gourley & Bywater | David A. Stephens
If the property is held JOWROS it generally supercedes the will. You can attempt to get around it by claiming and proving undue influence or lack of competence.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 6/13/2014
Durham Jones & Pinegar | Erven Nelson
Generally speaking, a specific designation on a specific account would trump a general provision in a will. In Nevada, if the JTWROS designation was done properly, the account would not become part of the deceased?s estate and would not be affected by the will. The will would apply to all assets in the estate, but not to assets which passed outside the estate (like the account). You might have an argument, however, if the will specifically mentioned the account as being part of the estate subject to the distribution set forth in the will. To give you a better answer, I would need to review both the will (with schedules and exhibits) and the designation on the account.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 6/13/2014
The Law Office of Kimberly D. Moss
The Law Office of Kimberly D. Moss | Kimberly Moss
If the will is available, you can submit the will to probate in the county where your mother died. The named executor will then be responsible for making sure her property is distributed as she intended. It is unclear what kind of assets your mother left behind, but a valid will needs to be submitted to probate as soon as possible to make sure you and your siblings receive the portion of her estate that she designated in the will.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 6/13/2014
Thomas SanFilippo & Associates, LLC | Thomas SanFilippo
I would have to see the will in question to give you a definite answer, also I would need to know more about the accounts. But I think as a biological heir you have options.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 6/13/2014
    Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons
    Law Office of Patricia A. Simmons | Patrica A Simmons
    If your mother added one child as a joint owner of her bank account. You could argue that she made your sibling a co-owner for convenience sake to assist her in paying her bills. However, if she was able to pay her own bills, that argument would probably not work. Generally, the co-owner of the account will be the sole owner of the account and all the funds when your mother passes.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    Joint tenancy generally trumps all other documents and the survivor takes all; does your mother understand this aspect of the joint tenancy account?, Is fraud involved, ie the joint tenant has unduly influenced your mother? Otherwise you are out of luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Danville Law Group | Scott Jordan
    Depending on the circumstances, the excluded children could challenge the will.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Law Office of Pamela Braynon | Pamela Y. Braynon
    The JTWROS trumps the funds in that particular account only. Otherwise, once in probate court, and the personal representative is appointed, that person must follow the distribution according to the will.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Law Ofices of Edwin K. Niles | Edwin K. Niles
    Trump! Title controls.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Russell & Heffner, LLC | Lawrence E. Heffner, Jr.
    Assuming your mother was competent at the time she established the joint account the account and no fraud was involved the joint account would not be included in your mother's probate estate. Proving fraud and/or incompetence at the time the account was established is almost impossible to do once someone has died.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Ashcraft & Ashcraft, Ltd.
    Ashcraft & Ashcraft, Ltd. | Randall C. Romei
    There are some circumstances that can lead to a court finding that a joint account was created for convenience purposes and not with the intent of survivorship. These are called convenience accounts that allow a caregiver/child to pay bills, etc. for the elderly person.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Vandervoort, Christ & Fisher, P.C. | James E. Reed
    A Will directs the distribution of those assets titled in the name of the deceased alone at the time of death. A joint account, by virtue of the title on the account, automatically goes to the surviving joint tenant and is not part of the estate distributed under the Will. The joint account could become part of the estate if it is proven that the surviving joint tenant exercised undue influence over the deceased in getting the account made joint, but undue influence is difficult to prove.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Christine Sabio Socrates Attorney at Law | Christine Socrates
    The will only applies to the assets that are in the probate estate. However, that does not mean that the other children cannot file their own action to try to prove that assets that passed outside of probate should have been distributed a different way. The joint account will pass automatically to the surviving joint owner but that account can be brought back into the estate if the other family members bring an action and prove that that was not the decedent's intent or there was some fraud, coercion or incapacity.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Law Offices of Charles R. Perry
    Law Offices of Charles R. Perry | Charles R. Perry
    Unless you can prove some sot of mistake, fraud or duress, then there is likely nothing you can do. The fact that only once child was named on the account, but all were named on the will, is not evidence of mistake. Your mother may have had her reasons for doing that, and if the record is silent on this fact, the court will assume the documents reflect your mother's desires. Yes, the joint ownership on the account trumps the will.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Kirby G. Moss PC | Kirby G. Moss
    The language on the account controls the account and everything else in the estate goes per the will.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    Joint ownership means the joint assets are not included in the probate estate, so the will does not affect them. You can sue your sibling under a "constructive trust" theory, that Mom didn't understand the effect of the transfer, and meant for her estate to go equally to the kids. It's a long row to hoe.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Coulter's Law
    Coulter's Law | Coulter K. Richardson
    Unless you can make a case that there was undue influence in placing the assets in the joint account or making a sole account a joint account, it passes outside probate.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Busson & Sikorski, PC | Robert S. Sikorski
    If you are on both the bank account and on the bank account signature card as a joint owner the only way that this designation could be broken is too have the account determined by the court to be an 'account of convenience'. That determination is a fact intense one, which will depend on the facts of the case and the purpose of the account.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C.
    Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C. | Bernard H. Greenberg
    Generally, the joint ownership will trump the will. However, there are circumstances where this can be overcome. To determine your rights, visit with an attorney who specializes in estate matters.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Law Office of Jeffrey T. Reed | Jeffrey T. Reed
    You can petition the local probate court, probably need an attorney, may be able to use a local legal aid service!? Does the will list everyone or just the one sibling?
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Home Town Law, P.A.
    Home Town Law, P.A. | Sabina Tomshinsky
    Generally, the type of joint account you are referring to is not considered a probate asset and passes outside of probate. This means that the remaining owner of the account becomes the sole owner of the remaining funds.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    C Page Hamrick Attorney at Law | C Page Hamrick
    FOR WEST VIRGINIA ONLY: The answer in West Virginia is rather complicated, and depends on the circumstances surrounding the event when the one person was placed on the account. On its face, the remaining joint tenant is the owner, however, there are other reasons why that person may not be the full owner. That may involve legal proceedings and you need to see an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: West Virginia
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    The question presented is actually two different issues. When your mother included one sibling to e a joint tenant with right of survival, she made the choice that, upon her death, the assets (generally a checking account or property) would belong to the survivor. The will addresses the remainder of her estate and how she wished it to be divided. One cannot be included in the estate unless they are named in the will. The executor has the responsibility to execute the wishes of your mother.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    A Will directs what is to happen to "probate" assets. Jointly held assets are not probate assets. Jointly held assets become the sole property of the joint owner at the death of the other joint owner. Unless there was some fraud used to induce the decedent's creation of the joint account, there is nothing the other children can do. If there are insufficient probate assets to pay the decedent's creditors, it may be possible to access a joint account to the extent necessary to pay those debts. This does not, however, make that account available to other children/devisees of the will.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    The JTROS trumps the Will. Speak with an attorney to address if you have any other viable options. It may be possible to explore other options depending upon timing issues, your mother's capacity, etc. This information is only intended to give general information in response to an inquiry. It does not establish an attorney client relationship.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    The essence of joint ownership is that the surviving owner(s) automatically receive the interest of the deceased owner upon his or her death. Since the transfer to the survivor(s) is automatic, the asset is usually not included in the will and cannot be distributed to the decedent's heirs. Exceptions to this rule include when the decedent was mentally incapable of understanding what a joint tenancy account meant at the time he/she created it or the decedent was a vulnerable adult who was duped into creating the joint tenancy at the urging or pressure of another person who intended to take advantage of the situation for his or her own benefit. Usually, a child who is signed on to an account merely to make sure the parent's bills are timely paid and the money spent reasonably does not fall into these exceptions.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Gliszinski Law Office, LLC | Susan Gliszinski
    The JTWROS account trumps whatever is in the will, and is not considered property covered by a will. The surviving joint tenant owns the account when the other joint tenant dies. One can legally challenge this if there is a belief such as undue influence, etc., but it is difficult and expensive.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
    It depends on the facts. If the joint ownership was done for "convenience purposes only," and there is evidence to show that, then you have a decent chance. If there is nothing other than joint ownership, then you have a problem. There is a presumption that the intent was to have the joint owner receive the property. It is possible to overcome that presumption, but it is not easy to do so. A skilled attorney is a must.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    JTWROS accounts are generally not part of the probate estate, which are governed by the will. See an attorney as there are arguments that can be made under certain circumstances but they are tough to win.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/13/2014
    James Law Group
    James Law Group | Christine James
    The joint account becomes the property of the joint owner. The only way to change that would to show fraud, lack of capacity or undue influence in naming the co-owner, and that is very hard to do.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/13/2014
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