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Agoura Hills Estate Planning, Probate & Trust Attorneys

When a CA senior with a joint bank account dies, do the funds belong to the decedent's estate or the co-signer?

Providing Peace of Mind One Estate Plan at A Time
Stephens Law Group

California courts have long grappled with this issue -- when a California senior dies with joint bank account, who does the money belong to? Is it the decedent's estate, or the surviving joint tenant (co-signer)?

Here's the most recent ruling from the CA Court of Appeal (2nd District):

"Under California law, '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 unless there is clear and convincing evidence of a different intent.'"

In this case, the trial court (Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cowan) properly concluded that the money belonged to the surviving co-owner (a daughter) and does not have to be shared with the other sibling as part of the inheritance from mom. The Court of Appeal affirmed.

Here's the complete text of the appellate decision:

Do you have an elderly parent, and wonder if there are smarter ways to allow an adult child to manage the parent's bank account, without naming the child as a co-signer? There are. We can show you how -- with proper estate planning.

Call us (818.707.8200) for a legal consultation.

[For information only. May not be relied upon as legal advice.]