THERE CAN BE CONFUSION WITH WHO OWNS THE FUNDS IN AN INHERITED JOINT BANK ACCOUNT
New Jersey’s Multiple-Party Deposit Account Act addresses the rights of surviving joint account holders.
Who owns the funds held in a joint account before it becomes an inherited joint bank account?
Generally, unless a contrary intent is stated by the terms of the contract, or the deposit agreement, or there is other clear and convincing evidence of a different intent at the time the account is created, a joint account belongs, during the lifetime of all parties, to the parties in proportion to the net contributions by each to the sums on deposit. In the absence of proof of net contributions, the account belongs in equal shares to all parties having present right of withdrawal.
The Multiple-Party Deposit Account Act governs issues related to inherited joint bank accounts upon the death of one of the primary account holders.
The amount remaining on deposit at the death of a party to a joint account belongs to the surviving party or parties not to the estate unless there is clear and convincing evidence of a different intention at the time the account is created. A common example of when an account would not go to the joint account holder is when the Decedent opened the account solely for the purpose of convenience to allow another party to write checks on their behalf. This is very common when an elderly person requests help with banking from a family member or friend. Under this example the Decedent clearly did not intend for the surviving account holder to keep the proceeds of the account.
It is best to consult an experienced probate attorney if you are unsure if you are entitled to take the funds held in an inherited joint bank account.