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Pros and Cons of Adding an Adult Child to a Bank Account: A Guide for Seniors

Are you a senior who is contemplating adding an adult child to your bank account to help manage your finances? It may seem like an easy solution for getting assistance with bill payments, but it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons before taking action. Our Greensboro elder law attorneys are here to guide you through this decision. 

The Benefits of Adding an Adult Child to Your Bank Account 

  1. Convenience: Having an adult child on your bank account can make financial management easier. They can help pay bills, monitor transactions, and address any banking issues on your behalf. 
  1. Emergency Preparedness: If you become incapacitated, your adult child can immediately access funds to cover your needs. 
  1. Avoid Greensboro Probate: Funds in a jointly owned bank account typically pass directly to the surviving owner, bypassing probate. 

Meet Mrs. Jenkins 
Mrs. Jenkins, a 78-year-old widow, struggles with managing her finances due to her declining eyesight. She adds her son, John, to her bank account. This allows John to conveniently handle her bill payments, manage her investments, and ensure that her financial needs are being met. 

However, adding an adult child to a bank account isn’t without potential pitfalls. 

Potential Drawbacks of Adding an Adult Child to Your Bank Account 

  1. Exposure to the Child’s Financial Risks: Once added to your account, your child’s creditors might be able to seize funds to settle debts. 
  1. Family Conflicts: If you have multiple children, adding only one to your bank account may result in disputes or hard feelings among siblings. 
  1. Unintended Consequences on Your Estate Plan: The funds in your joint account may pass directly to the joint owner upon your death, potentially disrupting your intended asset distribution. 

The Unintended Consequences Mrs. Jenkins Faced 

After Mrs. Jenkins added her son to her bank accounts, the pandemic occurred. His relatively new business venture failed, and his creditors turned to his personal assets, including his mother’s bank account, to recoup their losses. Mrs. Jenkin’s funds were unexpectedly drained, causing financial distress for all parties.  
Before making the decision to add an adult child to your bank account for assistance with account management, it’s crucial to consider these pros and cons. There may be other, less risky ways to accomplish your goals, such as setting up a power of attorney or creating a revocable living trust. 

Our Greensboro elder law attorneys can provide advice tailored to your unique situation, ensuring you make a decision that best protects your assets and your family’s future. Contact our law firm at (336) 378-1122 and we’ll help you navigate this complex decision

About the author

Dennis Toman

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