FAQs About Estate Planning

Will the Balance of a Joint Bank Account Automatically Pass to My Spouse When I Die?

by Rania Combs

Most spouses have at least one joint bank account. Both spouses contribute to the account and can write checks or make withdrawals out of it.

The fact that it is a joint account causes many to assume that when one spouse dies, the surviving spouse will automatically inherit the balance of the account.

That is not necessarily the case and depends on whether the joint account has survivorship rights.

The 113.151 of the Texas Estates Code states that a survivorship agreement may not be inferred from the mere fact that property is held in a joint account. Nevertheless, two or more persons may agree in writing that the interest of a joint owner who dies survives to the surviving joint owner or owners.

If you want the balance of a joint account to bank account to pass to a surviving spouse when you die, you should confirm the account has survivorship rights.

The easiest way for spouses to create survivorship rights is by both signing a bank deposit agreement or signature card containing a statement substantially similar to the following: “On the death of one party to a joint account, all sums in the account on the date of death vest in and belong to the surviving party as his or her separate property and estate.”

About Rania

Rania graduated magna cum laude from South Texas College of Law Houston and is the founder of Rania Combs Law, PLLC. She has been licensed to practice law since 1994 and enjoys helping clients in Texas and North Carolina create estate plans that give them peace of mind.

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