This is one of those things I've always just asked my dad about.
July 8, 2009 6:54 PM Subscribe
Should I open a joint checking account with my ailing dad and his wife?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (9 answers total)
My dad remarried after being widowed when my mom died. He has a prenuptial agreement and a will that makes a dividing line between how his assets will be handled when he passes away: what he made during his first marriage will go to me, what he made during his second marriage will go to his current wife. He has kept his bank accounts and other financial assets from his 1st marriage in his name only while his wife has kept her own bank accounts under her own name only. He covers all the maintenance/insurance costs for their house (which is willed to me as it was purchased/paid off during his 1st marriage), she contributes by buying groceries and paying for various bills such as phone and cable. All good so far.
Now he's in failing health (after a series of strokes) and he would like to set up a new joint bank account with his wife in order to ensure bills get paid as he's concerned that he might soon get to a state where he is physically unable to write checks by himself. He and his wife plan to fund this joint account with deposits from their individual bank accounts. The joint account would be used to pay for regular household expenses (homeowners insurance, power, water, phone, cable, and petty cash) but not a mortgage.
My question: will the creation of this joint account cause a problem with the assets (savings, other checking, house, stock, bonds etc) they have so carefully tried to keep separate all these years? Does it matter what kind of bills are paid from it? Would it be better for the joint account to be set up so only his individual accounts fund it?
He and his wife also want my name on this joint checking account. I'm not expected to contribute anything to this account, his wife wants my name on there "in case something happens to both of us" (meaning her and my dad), my dad wants my name on there just because he wants my name on there. Will that faff anything up in regards to taxes?
We all live in California. We all like each other a lot and are falling over ourselves to make sure the other person doesn't get screwed. I believe he's consulted the attny who wrote his will but he's also suffering from a lot of confusion post-stroke and thus it's difficult to get a reliable answer or feel confident that he clearly understood what was said. His wife is awesome but has zero interest in financial details. I understand you're neither my accountant nor my lawyer but I'd like to get a read on this while I'm waiting for those two to call me back; your input will help me ask more intelligent questions from my hired pros.