Recently I have encountered several cases where an adult child has been added as a joint account holder to an elderly parent’s account. At the time, the parent and all of the other children believed that it was the best way to help mom or dad take care of their finances.
What most people do not realize is that under Arizona law joint accounts are held as joint tenants with right of survivorship unless specifically designated otherwise. Therefore, when the parent dies the joint account will pass automatically to the adult child who is the surviving joint owner and it does not become part of the parent’s probate estate.
The best solution to this issue is to appoint the adult child as an agent under a Power of Attorney. As an agent, the child will be able to assist the parent with his or her finances and the asset will still be a part of the parent’s estate upon his or death. This simple document will help ensure that the parent’s wishes regarding his or her estate plan are fulfilled and it will help avoid litigation.
Laura Morrison Trujillo