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.