How to prevent someone adding me to their bank and other accounts?
August 30, 2013 7:33 PM   Subscribe

How do I prevent my mother from adding me to her accounts?

Today my mother informed me that she plans to add me to her bank accounts in order to protect it from my sibling and ensure it goes to my sibling's child as my mother intends. I told my mother that she needed to talk to a lawyer to protect the assets for my sibling's children if that was what she wanted but I would not get involved under any circumstances and she should not put me on any accounts. I made up some gibberish about tax implications that might be true for all I know, but even if there were no downside for me other than the enormous emotional and mental toll I'd still refuse.

Unfortunately my mother's one great gift is that she only hears what she wants to hear, so I have absolutely no confidence that she will respect my wishes. In fact, I'd be amazed if she hadn't already done it and that was her way of working up to telling me about it.

This leads to my question:

How do I prevent her from adding me to bank accounts? I am going to run a credit report and verify my credit freeze is still in effect to prevent her from adding me to credit accounts, but I don't know if that will stop her from adding me to bank accounts or other accounts? Can I call the banks in her town and tell them not to add me?

Please don't tell me I should be willing to help my mother out - for any number of reasons that is absolutely not an option.
posted by winna to Human Relations (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am pretty sure she can't without you signing and presenting ID. Post 9/11 you can't open an account on your own without doing this, let alone add an unwilling person.

Besides all this, even if you are on the account this means nothing as far as her estate goes.

She needs a will.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:39 PM on August 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


You can't be added as a signatory to a bank account without agreeing to it. That's an account holder, someone who can make deposits and withdrawals.

You can be added as a beneficiary--basically people who get the balance when the account holder dies and after obligations are paid. AFAIK, a person can't prevent that any more than one can prevent being named in someone's will or on their insurance policy. You can repudiate acceptance afterward, but you can't really stop it beforehand.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:48 PM on August 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


I know, cjorgensen, I've told her that at least a thousand times. Today when I told her to ask her accountant for a recommendation for a good estate lawyer she said it would 'make people gossip'. I told her that everyone does estate planning and it would not cause gossip but she didn't sound like she believed me.

I hadn't thought about the post 9-11 laws - I've not opened a bank account with a new bank since then. Does that apply for mortgages and things like that too?
posted by winna at 7:50 PM on August 30, 2013


She can't put you on the mortgage without you signing a fuckload of paperwork.
posted by desjardins at 7:51 PM on August 30, 2013


Correction: if your name is on the account as a joint tenant with right of survivorship, it would certainly mean something as far as her estate goes. However, the bank would require your signature and Id. (would she forge this?)

Also, there could be tax problems if she gives it you then you give it to the child that means two separate transfers each with its own gift/inheritance tax issues.

The proper way for her to do what she wants is to see a lawyer and set up a trust (assuming the assets are worth it.) If she does this and names you trustee, you can always refuse to serve after her death - the trust should provide for a successor trustee.

The great temptation for me in your place would be to firmly tell her that any money she leaves to you (at all or greater than your fair share) will automatically go to charity xyz. To repeat, if she dies and gives the money to you, you will not honor her wishes - it will be your money to do what you want and what you want is to give it to charity.

Good luck - sounds like a very tough relationship!!!
posted by metahawk at 7:55 PM on August 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


IANAL Is there likely to be a sizable estate? If there's going to be money left after debts are paid, and she has no will, most states have a standard distribution, and rules for how money will be disbursed. If your sibling's child is a minor, and maybe even if not, the money should go into a trust. This doesn't have to be terribly expensive to set up.

Can you approach it as Mom, I know you want Child to inherit, so you need a will. Otherwise, a lot of the money will get eaten up in lawsuits. You can probably get a DIY Will form on the Internet, certainly you can buy generic Will and Trust documents. Get a lawyer to do any tweaking. Of course, if she does nothing, you'll inherit some of it by default. Sorry you have to go through this.
posted by theora55 at 8:11 PM on August 30, 2013


What is said above does not apply to ownership of real estate. A person can be added as at least a record joint owner of land without knowing about it, and without his or her signature being required. Since real estate transfers require delivery of a deed, this is not foolproof.

That would not apply to a mortgage obligation - that person could not be added as an obligor without signing many forms.

BUT land records are public records. If she had signed a deed adding you as a joint owner of her land, or in some states a transfer-on-death recipient, you could find out. And you could execute and record a quit-claim deed essentially undoing what she did, and not tell her.

All of this is likely to lead to litigation, but it does not sound like she is willing to think rationally here.
posted by megatherium at 5:12 AM on August 31, 2013


Can't speak to the other stuff but I know she can add you as an authorized user to her credit card accounts without your consent, and then the cc companies can sue you if she defaults, even though that is technically illegal. You can monitor your credit reports to see if you have been added to any accounts you don't recognize, and then call/write them directly. I don't know of any way to prevent this.
posted by ziggly at 9:44 AM on August 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


She can't add you as an account owner without you. You would have to be there to present ID and sign an agreement, often called a "signature card".

She can add you as a beneficiary, and there's nothing you can do to prevent that. I strongly suspect this is what your mom means. You would not be "responsible" for this account in any way, but unless there is some legal wrangling, a will does not countermand your survivorship.

I used to be a sales person and supervisor at a bank.
posted by spaltavian at 3:51 PM on August 31, 2013


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