• JOINT

Joint bank accounts: Who gets the money?

All people named in a joint account are privy to the money by Law

Most of us have opened accounts at various bank branches. These accounts may be personal or joint.

In joint bank accounts ie. bank deposits where there are two or more cosigners there is a particular relationship between these two persons and the bank.

In the case of monetary deposits in a joint account in the name of the depositor and the third party or parties, there is, independent of the money that was deposited to others or to some in favor of others, active or total guilt between depositors and the third party as well as a legally binding agreement of the bank. Practically, this means that in a joint account, all parties whose names are on the account automatically become privy to money deposited by one of  the account owners (in part or in total) hence they automatically have rights to the money in the account.

With a deposit into a joint account, the co-signers of the account become owners of the money in the account regardless of the reason of the deposit. Withdrawal by anyone named on the account is not theft nor can it be considered a crime.

The depositor has the right to take legal action against the person who withdrew anything from half to the full amount except if there is another portion or percentage claim decided on between themselves.

In the case of death, the amount in the joint account cannot be inherited. Money from a joint account cannot be included in a will and testimony unless both owners are dead. The surviving member of the joint account continues to be the only one who can have access. If the person who owns the joint account is just one then that person is the only one who can withdraw the full amount within the account even if, in actual fact, it does not morally belong to him. In such a case, the heir cannot turn against the bank to seek an inheritance share from a joint account as the co-signer is the only one who can have access. The living heirs of the deceased can seek the portion of the deposit of the deceased based on the internal relations with the co-signer.

Anastasia C. Miliou is an Attorney at Law at the Court of Appeals with experience in international law and a large clientele in both Greece and abroad. Her telephone number is 6945028153. If you would like questions answered as part of her articles in English online Proto Thema, you can e-mail her at natmil@otenet.gr or visit www.legalaction.gr

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