Seniors-Avoid Joint Bank Accounts

Seniors avoid joint accountsI have seen many seniors financially abused by setting up a joint bank account with a child/caregiver/neighbour/friend  who takes advantage to the point where I advise seniors to avoid their use.

I recently came across a Maclean’s magazine article dated April 4, 2011 entitled “Signing Away Your Savings”, and went on into some details as to how joint bank accounts have recently blossomed in use, and are more and more being used to defraud seniors.

The joint turviror gets the funds irresepctive of what the will says, subject to claims such as resulting trusts.

Investment dealers and bankers generate much of the ongoing problems as easy Business /estate planning.

Inexperienced bank tellers for example make it dangerously easy for their senior clients to add others as joint owners to their bank accounts, wihtout really testing the mental faculties and why and what is going on firstly, and in detail..

In fact many financial advisors go so far as to encourage JTROS, so as to “avoid probate fees and even worse legal fees to probate the estate.

The accounts that I am talking about in this article are those called joint accounts with a right of survivorship  ( JTROS)

Based on the wording of the actual bank form,if one of the account holder dies, the other automatically obtains ownership of the account irrespective of whether the deceased’s will said otherwise.

Not surprisingly in the rougue” surviving joint bank older often keeps such financial details to him or herself and to the exclusion of other siblings for years.

In general I think it is just not a good idea for seniors to mix their personal funds with a personal funds of strangers, relatives or even children.

A limited form of power of attorney specifically spelling out your intentions and limiting the attorney to certain duties and limits of expenditures I think is a far safer estate planning tool than the overused and now frequently litigated joint bank account with right of survivorship

Trevor Todd

Trevor Todd is one of the province’s most esteemed estate litigation lawyers. He has spent more than 40 years helping the disinherited contest wills and transfers – and win. From his Kerrisdale office, which looks more like an eclectic art gallery than a lawyer’s office, Trevor empowers claimants and restores dignity to families across BC. He is a mentor to young entrepreneurs and an art buff who supports starving artists the world over. He has an eye for talent and a heart for giving back.

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