Many Florida residents use this type of arrangement to facilitate deposits and withdrawals, allowing two or more persons to use a single bank account at the same time. What happens to joint bank accounts when one of the owners dies in Florida? Read on to find out.
What Happens to Joint Bank Accounts When One Dies in Florida? – The Verdict
Only assets held solely in a deceased person’s name go through probate. Joint bank accounts with rights of survivorship are not inherited through a will, as the ownership passes directly to the surviving account holder.
When one of the joint owners dies, the surviving co-owner must communicate with the banking entity to inform them about the deceased’s passing.
The surviving co-owner must fill out a court form and submit it to the banking entity with a copy of the original death certificate. With the required paperwork in hand, the bank will verify the validity of the documents and transfer the ownership of the account to the petitioner.
What Happens to Joint Bank Accounts When One Dies in Florida? – As Provided by Law
Married couples and elderly individuals often set up joint bank accounts. If the account is titled with rights of survivorship, the account is not subject to probate.
Florida Statutes §655.79 (1) provides that a deposit account held in the name of two or more persons is presumed to have been intended to “vest in the surviving person or persons” with “all rights, title, interest, and claim in, to, and in respect of such deposit account.”
The same statute specifies that the assumption is only valid “unless otherwise expressly provided in a contract, agreement, or signature card executed in connection with the opening or maintenance of an account, including a certificate of deposit.”
Two or more individuals can own the same bank account with rights of survivorship. If one of them dies, the surviving account holder automatically “inherits” the deceased’s ownership rights.
Married couples in Florida can own a joint bank account titled in tenancy by the entirety. This way, each spouse has a 100% ownership share of the asset. Upon the death of one of the spouses, the surviving spouse already owns the account in its entirety.
Under Florida law, “any deposit or account made in the name of two persons who are husband and wife shall be considered a tenancy by the entirety unless otherwise specified in writing.”
What Happens to Joint Bank Accounts When One Dies in Florida? – Attention to Detail
Even though joint bank accounts allow you to avoid probate, this form of joint ownership can be problematic if one of the joint owners is not financially responsible or lacks the ability to handle complex assets.
For example, if one account holder borrows money against the funds in the account, all the joint owners of the account can be held liable for the debt without signing any documents. Make sure to consult with an expert Florida attorney before opening a joint account for estate planning purposes.