Ask a Lawyer: Possible Perils of Joint and Multiparty Bank Accounts

written by Attorney Kirk G. Siegel

Q:  I am 83 years old and was thinking of adding the oldest of my three children as an account holder on my bank account. She lives near nearby and helps me with paying bills. Is this okay?

A:  Caution is advised in this situation as there are a number of possible problems.  A power of attorney for your daughter might be preferable.  First, the terms of a deposit account need to be read carefully because frequently each account holder will have the right to withdraw the entire account, regardless of his or her contribution.  That type of account would give your daughter more rights in your account than you might intend.  It also might make that daughter (and not your other children) the owner of the account at your death because 18-A M.R.S.A. §6-104 provides that “sums remaining on deposit at the death of a party to a joint account belong to the surviving party or parties (rather than the estate of the decedent) unless there is clear and convincing evidence of a different intention at the time the account is created.” Continue reading