Other Family Issues

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Question: My mother recently passed away with no will and no power of attorney. She had a checking account that has me as a signatory. It was all her money and I've paid her funeral expenses, etc. from it. Can I use the money that is left for my own purposes?

Answer: When the owner of an account dies, there are many factors which may impact who takes ownership of the funds in the account.  If the account has a pay on death provision, then whoever is named as the payee will receive ownership of the account.  A.R.S. 14-6212(B)(2).  http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/14/06212.htm&Title=14&DocType=ARS  If there is no pay on death provision and the account was owned by the deceased and one other person, then the other person takes ownership of the entire account.  A.R.S. 14-6212(A).  http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/14/06212.htm&Title=14&DocType=ARS  However, it is important that a person who is a signatory to an account not assume that he or she is now entitled to the funds in the account upon the death of the owner.  The survivor must be an owner of the account, not merely an agent of the owner.  An agent’s authority to direct the funds in the account automatically terminates on death and is not entitled to take ownership.  A.R.S. 14-6205.  http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/14/06205.htm&Title=14&DocType=ARS  The determination of whether any specific individual is an account owner or an agent is beyond the scope of AZLawHelp.  A person who believes that he or she is entitled to ownership of an account should consult with the bank at which the account is held to determine who owns the account.  It would also be prudent to consult with a licensed attorney familiar with probate matters.

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QUESTIONS

  • My mother recently passed away with no will and no power of attorney. She had a checking account that has me as a signatory. It was all her money and I've paid her funeral expenses, etc. from it. Can I use the money that is left for my own purposes?

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