Gardendale, AL asked in Estate Planning, Banking and Probate for Alabama

Q: Coowner of savings account dies 30 days before owner dies. Coowner spouse was secondary on POA. Who gets the money now?

1 Lawyer Answer
Mr. James Parrish Coleman
Mr. James Parrish Coleman
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Robertsdale, AL

A: By co-owner I am making the assumption that the account was held by two people as joint tenants with a right of survivorship. You must confirm that with the bank. If one person dies, then the money -- at law -- is the property of the other at the moment of death. I don't see from your question what a Power of Attorney has to do with anything. I don't know who held the power of attorney for whom. In any event, a power of attorney ceases to have any effect at all on the death of the person who gave it. The answer is, the survivor is the legal owner of the money. It is possible, however, to show that the money in the account was the entire property of the person who died, and that the joint tenant was actually holding the money in trust for the person who earned or otherwise received the money. That takes a lawsuit to sort out. On those facts the person who is the surviving joint tenant may not be the "equitable" owner of the money, but on your facts the person certainly is the legal owner of the money.

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