Q: My father’s banker told me after my father passed away my father left his checking account solely to me after I paid all his bills. My brothers think that I should have to split up this account with them. My brothers left my father at the hospital and I took care of him for the remainder of his life. Do I really have to split the money that he left solely to me according to the banker? (Baldwin, PA)
A: If your father has your name on the account as a joint owner it is likely that you are a joint tenant with right of survivor. This means you own the account the minute your father died. Your brother’s have no right to this account, and you can do what you want with it. You will need to pay inheritance tax on half the value of the account.
Q: My wife is on our friend’s joint bank account, they have both died and there is no will.
A: If you mean your wife is a surviving tenant on a joint account held with friends, this is what happens. Regardless of whether there is a will or not, your wife inherits the balance of the account. This is a non-estate asset and it passes right to the joint account holder upon death of the other tenants. Inheritance tax is owed on the share she would have inherited, or 2/3 of the estate. Inheritance tax will be owed by her. If the other two tenants did not die simultaneously, she may have to file two inheritance tax returns, or file two advanced work sheets with the Department of Revenue. If the deceased tenants were grandparents or siblings of hers, the tax rate will be 15%. Also, if she was made a joint tenant within one year of death, she will owe inheritance tax on the entire value of the account, not 2/3, with a $3,000.00 permissible exclusion. Surviving tenants usually receive a notice from the Department of Revenue which acknowledges the inheritance, tells them what the Department thinks they owe, and allows them to pay it by sending in a copy of the form with a check. You should consult with an attorney.
Q: CAN JOINT ASSETS BE FROZEN OR HAVE A LEIN PUT AGAINST THEM IN PA, IF THE DEBT IS ONLY HELD BY ONE PERSON AND NOT BOTH?MY LONG TERM LIVE IN IS BEING SUED FOR A CREDIT CARD DEBT. I AM WORRIED THAT WHEN THEY GET A JUDGMENT, THEY WILL BE ABLE TO FREEZE OUR JOINT CHECKING ACCOUNTS AND PUT A LIEN ON OUR HOME AND TAKE OUR VEHICLE, ALL OF WHICH ARE HELD JOINTLY. I AM NOT AN AUTHORIZED USER OR CO-APPLICANT ON THIS CREDIT CARD.
A: Assuming you are not married, joint accounts can be frozen if a judgment is entered against one obligor/joint owner and the execution is issued by a judgment creditor. You would then have to file a property claim with the sheriff. If you were married, the entire account could be set aside as exempt. However, with just a live-in person on the account, no such protection is offered except that your interest in the account can be protected by a property claim.