Thursday, January 30, 2014
It can be convenient to add an adult child as a joint signer to your checking account. The child can help you manage your money by depositing checks, writing checks, and paying bills. And upon your death, the account will pass automatically to your child, thus avoiding probate.
As convenient as it may be, giving a child unfettered access to your account may not be the best idea. And as a joint signer, the money in the account could be used to pay creditors or damages in a lawsuit.
Through the use of a durable power of attorney or a revocable living trust, you can give your child access to your account but not ownership. The child could still withdraw all the money, but the account wouldn’t be exposed to creditors or lawsuits.
If your main goal is to leave the account to your child, then use a payable on death or transfer on death designation, which will also avoid probate.
See Laura Medigovich, Your Finances: Pros and Cons of Joint Signers, Record Online, Jan. 11, 2014.