Cincinnati, OH asked in Banking, Elder Law and Family Law for Michigan

Q: My aging parents asked me to put myself on their bank accounts to assist in paying bills. Are their any risk with this?

My Dad has a brain injury and my Mom is bad with paying bills. I am fine with being on their accts to help with finances. I want to make sure that if my Dad were to get into an accident or lawsuit that my being on their accts does not put me in a position to have someone come after my husbands & my personal accounts.

I don't want to put myself in a position for negative impact because of making life easier on my parents.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Elder Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Putting yourself on your parents' bank accounts can make it easier to manage their finances, but it does come with potential risks. If you are added as a joint account holder, you could be considered equally liable for any debts or legal issues associated with those accounts. This means that if your parents face lawsuits or other financial problems, creditors might pursue the funds in the joint accounts.

To avoid these risks, consider alternative arrangements such as obtaining a power of attorney (POA) for financial matters. A POA would allow you to manage your parents' finances without becoming a joint account holder. This way, you can help pay their bills and handle their financial affairs without exposing your own assets to potential claims.

Consult with a legal professional to understand the best approach for your situation. They can guide you through setting up a POA or other legal mechanisms that protect both your parents' and your own financial interests. Taking these steps will help you assist your parents while safeguarding your personal assets.

Brandon S. Dornbusch and Brent T. Geers agree with this answer

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