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Our Property Is In Joint Names, What Happens If We Both Die In An Accident?

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Our Property Is In Joint Names, What Happens If We Both Die In An Accident?

Whether the account specifies "joint tenants with right of survivorship" or the owners were married when it was created, where the property goes depends upon the order in which death occurs.

Suppose John and Mary, who are married, open an account in both names. They are in a serious car accident which kills Mary at the scene. John dies an hour later at the hospital. John was the sole owner when Mary died. When John dies, the account passes under his will, or by intestate law to his heirs.

If, however, there is insufficient evidence that John and Mary died other than simultaneously, one-half will go to John's heirs and one-half to Mary's heirs.

Joint ownership with right of survivorship is convenient, but if the heirs of both owners are not identical, the heirs of the first to die are left out. This can be corrected if both joint owners make a last will and testament to provide that the joint property will go one-half to John's heirs and one-half to Mary's heirs. Then even though the joint account goes to the survivor, when that survivor dies, both sets of heirs are recipients.

For assistance with probate administration or estate planning, do not hesitate to contact me.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a living will and a power of attorney? A living will is a legal document that states what type of medical care you wish or do not wish to receive should you become unable to voice your opinions. A power of attorney is a document that you write that appoints someone to make medical decisions on your behalf.
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