Uncle is widowed and a retired Senior Vice President of a major oil and gas company. He has one daughter and no other children other than the daughter from marriage. He always wanted a son, so he spends a lot of time with his Sister’s son, his nephew. Uncle has a lot of disposable income and is enjoying life. They fish, play golf and visit Las Vegas regularly all at the expense of the Uncle. Uncle treats nephew like the son he never had, to the dismay of his daughter.
Nephew was having some financial difficulties and confided in Uncle who told him not to worry; he will add Nephew to his checking account, which contained $200,000.00, so he can write checks to pay down his debt. Uncle went to the bank and told the banker he wanted to add a signatory on his account. The Banker said sure thing we will add Nephew as joint tenant with right of survivorship. Uncle agreed and did not question what that meant as all he wanted was to have Nephew on account and the Banker didn’t give him any trouble getting it done. Nephew was grateful and began to use the account to pay debt, living and personal social expenses.
Months went by and Nephew and Uncle went on one of their fishing trips, when Uncle had a severe allergic reaction to some food and was in a coma. When Uncle was well enough to return home, Nephew told Uncle’s Daughter not to worry he would take care of the arrangements. Uncle’s Daughter was surprised but agreed to let Nephew handle the transportation logistics. When they arrived home, Uncle’s Daughter noticed Nephew writing a check with Uncle’s checkbook and told him he had no right to do so. Nephew told Uncle’s Daughter that he has been doing so for months and that Uncle put Nephew on the account, so she should mind her own business.
Daughter went to the bank to see what was going on was told that as she was not a signatory on the account they could not provide her with any account information. Daughter asked what would happen to the accounts if her Father died. She was told that the other signatory would still have access to the account. Nephew was funding his life with Uncle’s monies and Daughter could do nothing.
Remember: Everyone should be aware of the consequences of adding a non-spouse to their account either as a convenience signer or joint tenant with rights of survivorship.