Folsom, CA asked in Collections and Banking for California

Q: CA. Wife and father had joint acct. He passed, and the account got levied for debt he owed. Is this exempt, her acct now

California. Wife and her father had a joint account that they both deposited to and utilized. He passed last June, and we just received a notice of levy on the account. The bank is temporarily holding the money for 10 days. It is my understanding that after he passed, the account is now hers, and they cannot put a levy on it. Is this the case?

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Collections Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Yes, your understanding is correct. Since the bank account was jointly held between your wife and her now deceased father, once he passed away the account became your wife's individual account by operation of law. Here are the key reasons why the account levy is invalid:

• Under California probate code Section 5302, sums remaining on deposit at the death of a party to a joint account belong to the surviving party as against the estate of the decedent. So your wife assumed full ownership upon her father's passing.

• As the account is now in your wife's name alone, a levy against her deceased father would have no validity. Creditors can only attach assets that belong to their debtor.

• Joint bank accounts with rights of survivorship have strong protections under California law. The creditor has no claim to her inherited funds.

Your wife should formally contest the levy with the bank and creditor immediately. An affidavit stating she assumed sole legal ownership upon her father's death should be sufficient initially. If further issues arise, consult a probate/estate attorney for assistance. But the levy should have no legal merit.

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.