My cousin, sister and I have a joint bank account. My cousin recently passed and now my sister and I would like to withdraw the funds and are not sure if we are able to or if the account must go through probate.
ATTORNEY ANSWER BY MARGARET L. CROSS:
A joint account passes by operation of law to the surviving owners. You are free to withdraw the funds as your own. However, be aware that Massachusetts law states that if a joint owner is placed on the account merely for the convenience of the original owner,
then the account is considered a probate asset. Did the three of you each contribute your own money to the account? Did your cousin intend for you to inherit the account? Alternatively, did your cousin add you during a time he was ill simply so that you could help pay his bills and he had other beneficiaries of his estate (children for example)?
Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice.
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