Think Twice Before Adding Your Child to Your Bank Account

By Jason Palmisano

Adding a responsible adult child to mom’s bank account to give the child access to funds to pay bills and expenses for mom as she gets older seems harmless enough, right?  After all, mom really needs the help and the account will now avoid probate since the child is a joint owner of the account.   And mom did tell her child to divide the funds equally with his siblings after she passes (which, of course, the child assures her will happen).

Unfortunately, the convenience obtained can lead to some serious issues during the mom’s life and after mom’s death.  Forbes has a nice, short article here summarizing some of the problems associated with adding a child to a bank account which can include federal gift tax consequences, liability exposure, estate implications and even the impact on college aid/scholarships for a grandchild.

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting “Dear Abby” advice article here where a man added his daughter to a joint account shortly before he passed away unexpectedly.  The daughter kept the money from the joint account and his other daughter is trying to determine if there is any way she can get a share of the joint account from her sister, as her dad intended.

It is very important you understand the consequences and ramifications of adding a child to your bank account.  Don’t let convenience be the sole determining factor.

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