If there is one positive thing that has happened over the past two years, it is that many of us have finally decided to get our estate plan together. Recent high school graduates are ensuring that their bank and student accounts are joint ownership accounts. Parents are electing their children for a power of attorney, in addition to finally getting that will drafted. But, with all of this new estate planning scrambling, families are increasingly wondering how JOAs and POAs interact.
The term, joint ownership accounts, simply refers to those accounts where one has elected to put someone as a co-owner on their account. This means they have the same rights and responsibilities as the original owner, and they can use it however and whenever they want.
A power of attorney essentially designates someone (usually a family member or trusted attorney or friend) to act on their behalf, should they die or become incapacitated. This means that the designee can sign for and on behalf of the designator, and will have access to all of their accounts to pay bills, maintain a business, etc. This person has a fiduciary duty to the designator, and they only get their power after a triggering event.
So, how do they interact?
In a word, they are both part of a well-rounded estate plan. In some situations, a joint ownership account makes sense, like where one is married to or the parent of the joint account holder. In most other events though, it makes more sense to utilize a POA. Utilizing a POA as part of a legally-enforceable estate plan ensures that our Jackson, Tennessee, readers protect themselves, while also ensuring their assets and heirs are properly cared for.