Philadelphia, PA asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Pennsylvania

Q: My grandmother just recently passed but she left a handwritten will in which I was a witness to

In the will it states how she wanted her assets divided among the family which include money she had left in the bank. But however her daughter who has her named on the account refuses to carry out my grandmother wishes is this legal

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
Cary B. Hall
Cary B. Hall
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Norristown, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: Potentially, if your grandmother and her daughter were joint owners of the bank account (which is also called "joint owners with the right of survivorship" - check the paperwork that was signed when the account was opened, or when daughter's name was added to the account). In such a case, when one owner dies, the money in the account goes to the remaining and surviving owner. If that occurs, and there is no other cash available elsewhere, then the testamentary wishes of your grandmother cannot be fulfilled.

For example, if I write a Will and leave $1,000.000.00 to my dog -- but I don't have $1,000,000.00, or any money at all -- then the intent of the Will can't be carried out. Likewise, while your grandmother may have intended to distribute cash to named beneficiaries named in her Will, if the account was a joint account with her daughter, then the money becomes her daughter's upon grandmother's death.

But that's not necessarily 100%. Depending how much money you're talking about, it's worth having a consultation with a competent probate/estates attorney. If you're dealing with $50.00, it's almost certainly not worth it. But $50,000.00 would be.

Best of luck to you.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.