My mom added me to her bank accounts before she died. Am I legally or morally obligated to disclose these accounts to my siblings?

My mom recently passed away. I have taken care of my mother’s finances for the past 10 years. It was always her money, but I made sure all her bills were paid. He lived in his own home until about 7 months ago. Then he moved in with me. She was 89 years old and could no longer take care of herself.

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“Do I have to report this to the probate attorney? More importantly, should I inform my 3 siblings about the money in these accounts? ”

For the past 10 years, I’ve been busy paying her bills, so Mom put me on all her checking / savings accounts. My mom trusted me to take care of all her finances, as well as all aspects of her life / care, and any repairs / problems around the house. Since I am supportive on your bank accounts, should I report this to the probate attorney? More importantly, should I inform my 3 siblings about the money in these accounts? If I am in solidarity with your accounts, does that make me the beneficiary and does it need to be disclosed? My sisters are teasing me about Mom’s accounts. I haven’t told them anything. Mom didn’t want me to tell them about her money and she never had until now. That I have to do? Am I legally required to disclose the accounts? Thank you for your advice. Daughter / Sister You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions at qfottrell@marketwatch.com. Do you want to read more? Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter and read more of his columns here. Dear Daughter / Sister: I am sorry for your loss and I am glad that you had this time to spend with your mother and care for her needs. It is not easy, and some families may take that commitment on the part of a child for granted. You did your mother a great service and I hope you take comfort in the fact that you did everything you could to make her later years comfortable and free from loneliness. You write that your mother “put” me on these accounts and you say “I am jointly” on the accounts. First, establish whether you are a “co-owner” of these bank accounts or an “authorized signer.” There is a big difference between the two. With the first, you are the beneficiary of these accounts and they do not go through a succession. Not so, with the latter.

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“’First, establish whether you are a co-owner of these bank accounts or an authorized signer.’ “- The Moneyist

Let’s proceed on the basis that you are a co-owner. Given the decade-long commitment to your mother and her desire for you to keep the contents of these accounts private, I do not see any moral or legal imperative to access your siblings and give them full forensic accounting. To what end? The only reason would be if this was your money too. It’s not. Still, situations like this can be tricky. “Transfers upon death” are generally considered a safer way to transfer bank accounts to a chosen friend or relative, and can also help avoid the tax traps that come with inheriting joint accounts. That said, death transfers do not grant ownership to third parties during the person’s lifetime. According to the National Law Review, making an adult child a co-owner of an account is viewed as the “will of the poor” primarily because of the myriad issues that can arise over whether it was simply a convenience account set up to pay bills, in In reality, it is not meant to be left to the caregiver in question. “Litigation can and often does arise.” It asks three questions: 1. What was the source of the account? “If the deceased owner was the sole source of funding, the account is more likely to be considered a convenience account, and the joint designation is intended simply as a means of ensuring that the deceased owner’s expenses were paid while he or she was alive. , that a true joint account ”, says the NLR. 2. What was the money used for? “If the account was used solely for the deceased owner’s expenses, it is more likely to be considered a convenience account,” he adds. “However, the use of the account by the living co-owner is strong evidence that the deceased owner considered the account to be a ‘true’ joint account.”

“’He always errs on the side of transparency. That means a full disclosure to the probate attorney. “- The Moneyist

3. And finally, when was the account created? “If the account was created long before the death of the deceased owner, it is probably easier for the living owner to argue that the deceased owner knew what he was doing, he was less susceptible to any influence,” the publication adds. But the reverse could also be true. Therefore, any paper trail to back up your case would be helpful. There are many moving parts here. Always err on the side of transparency. That means full disclosure to the probate attorney. He or she can evaluate all documents and make sure all legal matters are dealt with fairly and properly. Your siblings would be less likely, in theory anyway, to suspect that some improper influence or financial malfeasance has occurred. Hello MarketWatchers. Take a look at Moneyist’s private Facebook group US: FB, where we search for answers to life’s thorniest money problems. Readers write to me with all kinds of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or comment on the latest Moneyist columns. By submitting your story to Dow Jones & Company, the publisher of MarketWatch, you understand and agree that we may use your story, or versions of it, on all media and platforms, including third parties.