Prepare Your Estate Plan Case Study 6


Case Study 6 – The dangers of making someone a co-owner of a bank account as joint tenants with right of survivorship


Mary is a widow with three children. In her will, Mary leaves her property equally to her three children. As Mary gets older, she is concerned that she may become ill and forget to pay her bills. She wants to give her youngest child, Jane, legal authority to write checks and make deposits in her account. She and Jane open a joint account with a right of survivorship. As Mary’s health declines, she sells her house and her farm and deposits the sale proceeds in her bank account. Eventually, everything she owns is sold and the money is deposited in her bank account. To test your knowledge, take the quiz below, and select the best answer for each question.


1. The bank account may be subject to Jane’s (her youngest child’s) creditors.

___ True
___ False
___ It depends

2. Jane could withdraw the entire amount in the bank account and deposit it in another account in her name only.

___ True
___ False
___ It depends

3. Mary has made a gift of one-half of the account to Jane.

___ True
___ False
___ It depends

4. At Mary’s death, what will happen to the bank account she co-owns with Jane?

___ A. It will be split equally between her children as directed by her will.
___ B. Jane will get all of it.
___ C. Jane will get all of it, but she will be required to share it with her brothers and sisters.

5. Instead of opening a joint account with right of survivorship with Jane, Mary had the following options:

___ A. She could have opened a personal agency account naming Jane as her agent.
___ B. She could have executed a durable power of attorney naming Jane as her agent.
___ C. She could have signed a card at the bank giving Jane authority to make deposits and withdrawals from her account.
___ D. All of the above.

State-specific Answers to Case Study 6 Questions




North Dakota

South Dakota

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Adapted for use in the Legally Secure Your Financial Future: Organize, Communicate, Prepare program.

Content Development by:
Carol A. Schwab, J.D., LL.M.,
Former Professor and Extension Specialist, North Carolina State University.

This document is for non-profit educational purposes only. This document may not be used by a profit-making company or organization. When used by a non-profit organization, appropriate credit must be given to the Cooperative Extension Legally Secure Your Financial Future: Organize, Communicate, Prepare education program. Materials for this program were developed by a team from six land-grant universities. The program is included in the program toolkit of the Cooperative Extension Financial Security in Later Life national initiative. For more information go to: