The Elder and Disability Law Firm, APC
Take Pause Before Starting Joint Bank Accounts
People sometimes make estate planning mistakes that result in truly devastating consequences. With this in mind you would do well to take pause before starting a joint bank account and relying on your co-account holder to distribute your resources to your various heirs after you pass away.
This can seem to some like a reasonably logical idea but there are some very good reasons to the eschew this notion.
First let's talk about Medi-Cal. Long-term care is extremely expensive these days and paying out of pocket could consume all of your financial resources during the end of your life. Medicare won't pay for an extended stay, but Medi-Cal will under the right circumstances.
The program will examine the financial resources of anyone who is applying because you must stay within an upper resource limit.
To provide an example, we will assume that you started a joint accountant and named your brother as the co-account holder. He did not place a single red cent in the account.
If he was to apply for Medi-Cal the entirety of the resources in the account could be considered his by the program, and this could preclude him from eligibility.
And what about the co-account holder's creditors? If this individual was to fall behind on his or her bills your resources could be swallowed up by bill collectors.
There is the matter of the co-account holder doing something blatantly dishonest with the funds of course, but even short of that he or she could be one of the many victims of elder financial abuse and the money could evaporate that way.
Clearly, joint accounts are not the way to go if you are looking for a truly viable estate planning solution. The time and effort that it takes to construct a proper plan with the assistance of an inheritance planning lawyer is well worth it in the long run.