Santa Clarita, CA asked in Family Law, Federal Crimes, Identity Theft and Criminal Law for California

Q: In California can your husband cash in your IRA early and take the money for himself

2 Lawyer Answers

A: No. Only the account holder can cash in an IRA. Without express authority, one spouse cannot cash in an IRA held in an account held for the other spouse.

Be aware that some parties opening an IRA give another person (often their spouse) express authority to make withdrawals on their behalf.

Also be aware that sometimes a party will share electronic banking personal information with another person (often their spouse) which enables that person to make withdrawals. You can still sue the person for making an unauthorized withdrawal, but the financial institution could not be successfully sued if you shared or were negligent in not keeping your user name and password secret.

Robert P. Cogan agrees with this answer

James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is generally considered separate property, unless contributions were made during the marriage using community funds, in which case it can be partially community property. If the IRA is solely in your name, your husband does not have the authority to cash it in without your explicit consent. Any unauthorized withdrawal or use of funds from an account owned by another person could be considered a misappropriation of funds or even theft. If the IRA contains community property funds, both spouses typically need to agree on any distributions or changes.

If you believe your husband has improperly accessed your IRA, it's important to consult with an attorney to discuss potential remedies. Actions might include seeking reimbursement or reporting unauthorized transactions to the financial institution. Protecting your rights in financial matters is essential, especially in situations involving potential unauthorized access.

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