unclaimed bank funds!
March 26, 2013 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Banking question: how to reclaim a joint account I had previously separated myself from?

I recently received a banking statement in the mail. The mail was addressed to my mother, but at my current address (where she's never lived). I think that this is because she somehow remained on an account we used to share. I am not sure of this because I don't seem to have any old paperwork on the account after removing myself from it when I transferred to another bank.

Step 1 is I need to find out if this is the same account. I assume I can just call the bank's customer service (or go to a location) and ask them what my account number used to be and match them up?

Now I've confirmed the accounts are the same in step 1. How do I go about claiming the money in that account? the problem is this: my mother is no longer able to deal with things as she is in a nursing home and unable to communicate effectively. She does have a POA who could sign off on something if necessary, though. Would it just be a matter of signing a form that allows me to be put back on the account?

The amount of money in the account is small, and if it is in fact the same account she had probably deposited the additional funds for me a long time ago and neither one of us had ever figured out what happened. I should add that as far as I can tell, the account has sat dormant. I would love to be able to just ask her about it, but there's no way she'd be able to remember doing it.
posted by ninjew to Work & Money (4 answers total)
The bank *might* be able to tell you what your old account number was, hard to say.

My experience in banking is Canadian, but I assume the laws in the US are similar:
1) Your name is not on this account NOW, so legally you have no claim to these funds. They belong to your mother.
2) Your mother's affairs are being managed by a person with POA over the accounts.
3) If you feel that you have any claims over these funds, the POA would be the person to talk to. As far as the bank would be concerned, this is not your account and information about it would be protected under privacy laws.
posted by smitt at 10:45 AM on March 26, 2013

It's not clear to me whether you closed the old account? People normally can't be removed from an account after it's been established - you usually have to close the account and open a new one. Typically, only Business accounts allow you to add or remove signers. If this is 1) an old personal account, and 2) a checking or savings account, your name may still be on it. Just call customer service and tell them you got a statement and you want to know how to do what you've asked above. They have ways to verify you are who you say you are even if you don't have the account number. Expect weird questions like "which of the following cars have you ever owned" or "has anyone in your family ever been associated with one of the following addresses" - banks sometimes use VerID or another similar service which provides deeper verification questions.
posted by ersatzkat at 11:27 AM on March 26, 2013

Yes, you can take your name off of an account. You write a letter saying "Old title was 'Jane Doe/Bob Jones'. Please rename account to 'Jane Doe." and everyone on the old account signs, and Bob has just irrevocably gifted his half of the account to Jane.

If your name is really off the account, which is sounds like it is, you can't get back on it, period. However, if your mother is incompetent, you should look into getting a financial power of attorney through the courts. The nursing home probably has some tips on who to ask for help with that. You will have pretty stringent legal requirements as to how to use her money, obviously, and whoever funded this particular account initially, the courts will see it as 100% her money at this point.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:51 AM on March 26, 2013

"She does have a POA." Meaning that she has signed a POA with someone as her agent? A durable POA?

That is the person who can and should do these things, if he or she feels that it is proper.
posted by yclipse at 3:46 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

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