Relating to probate, a joint account is for when one account holder dies, and the title to the funds and the joint account automatically passes to the surviving account holder. This is called a right of survivorship, and it occurs outside of probate.

Therefore, the defalut rule is that joint accounts are often considered non-probate assets since opening a probate estate is not required to transfer title to the account. For more modest estates, mainly where there is a surviving spouse or maybe one surviving child, joint accounts can often serve to effectively transfer property solely to the surviving spouse outside of probate. For more information about Lombard probate and joint accounts, reach out to an experienced probate lawyer.

Does a Person Maintain Access to a Joint Account Before They Probate the Will?

A person maintains access to a joint account even before the will is probated. In most cases, all a bank needs is a certified copy of a death certificate to retitle the account and grant the surviving account holder sole authority over the account or to let him or her withdraw the money.

Owner of the Property and Joint Account Following a Death

The default rule in Illinois is that there is a presumption that the joint account holder owns the property solely. If there are multiple joint account holders, then, usually, the joint account agreement with the bank provides that they each hold an equal share in the account. In cases where there are three joint account holders, and one of them dies, then the remaining two own the entirety of the account jointly.

What Issues Need to be Addressed Before any Funds can be Assessed?

There are a few issues to consider before it is recommended to access joint funds. Just because an individual can obtain the funds right away, it does not always mean he or she should. First, non-probate assets are includable under on a decedent’s gross estate for state and federal estate tax purposes. Even though they are non-probate assets, when someone is filling out a federal estate tax return, he or she would still have to include all the value of probate accounts.

That is because the federal government does not want individuals to just be able to put all his or her assets in joint tenancy and avoid paying whatever may be due. Therefore, there are substantial joint accounts, particularly joint brokerage accounts that may cause the incurrence of state or federal estate taxes on an estate. Depending on the language of a decedent’s will, the executor or the representative may still go after a joint account holder for their proportional share of any estate taxes incurred.

If someone has issues with Lombard probate and joint accounts or he or she thinks that it might be just a convenience account, it is imperative that he or she seeks the advice of an experienced probate lawyer.

How an Attorney Could Help with Lombard Probate and Joint Accounts

A person who has a joint account with a deceased individual should contact a probate lawyer because a lawyer could assist in evaluating whether he or she may be the subject of a proceeding. Also, an attorney could help aid in determining whether the proceeds in the joint account are subject to any estate taxes on behalf of the decedent. For more information about Lombard probate and joint accounts, reach out to an accomplished lawyer today.