Does co-ownership of a credit union account supercede durable power of attorney?

3 answers | Last updated: Oct 25, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I have durable power of attorney for ny senile mother who has lived with me for 4 years. On her credit union account, she has my son as co-owner. He has not kept her for 3 years. Why does his co-owner status of that account supercede my durable power of attorney?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

While it sounds as if your mother set up that credit union account in better or at least different days, "co-ownership" means what it says: both your mother and son own the account. If the account has been set up as true joint ownership, it may be difficult or even impossible to have him removed.

If you feel that he is using or misusing the funds in a way that he shouldn't, you can certainly invoke your maternal powers and try to reason with him about it. And this is especially true if the credit union funds are a source of payment for your mother's care.

In fact, if she is now strapped for funds, then it may be worth your while to contact credit union personnel to be sure the account is in true joint ownership or if there is some way your son can be blocked or monitored in his use of the money while your mother is alive.

If, however, your mother has sufficient other funds to live on and the credit union account is a small or inconsequential portion of her property, then forget about it"”and make peace with the thought that it's a gift she intended to give him.

Community Answers

The practical expert answered...

I agree with Barbara but there may be other options too. Since the account is joint, you can as POA remove her money from it and open another account, have her income deposited into the new account and payments made out of it. That would be the cleanest way out.

If you are the executor of the Will, this will make things easier and if you are the beneficiary, then you won't have the issue of the joint account because what money is in it, is joint and your son is entitled to the money regardless of the Will.

If you talk to the credit union, they are very likely to be very helpful in making arrangements easier and more quickly.

Focus on protecting your Mom's assets and her wishes.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I faced a similar situation; I was a POA but not a joint owner on the account my dad had set up with a sibling as joint owner. When I did a routine check on my dad's accounts, I saw that money was being withdrawn on a regular basis by my sibling. At the time, my dad was still able to comprehend the gist of the situation (he has Alzheimer's) so we went in to the financial institutions (there were two involved) and with the statements, showed them what had happened. They worked with us and we ended up not needing her permission or signature to close the accounts with her name on it. It helped that I had the documentation and that by the time this was all done, the staffs at both institutions knew me and that I was living with my dad caring for him.