Is it necessary for my parents' name to be on all accounts that handle their finances?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 13, 2016
Dlb61 asked...

My parents own a condo (which they used to live in) and are now renting it out. My brother opened a checking account strictly for the condo with his name and my father's name on the account. The account is only used for collecting rent and paying condo fees, taxes or any repairs needed.

My brother is not able to handle the account any more and asked if I could take over all the condo responsibilities. I changed the account number and it is now in my name. My father has dementia and my mother is not able to keep up with her old tasks of paying bills correctly. My question is, since my parents own the condo, should I at least put my mother's name on the checking account? Does it make a difference?

Thank you.

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.

It sounds as if you are in the lucky and somewhat rare position of being in a family in which the members are able to work together well and with understanding. So there is a chance that you could mange the condo rental and banking without a question and without a hitch.

However, the condo account still technically belongs to your parents, so it is legally preferable to address that, as you seem to intuit. To find out the right way to proceed, you will need to find out your parents' wishes for the money in it"”whether they want to have access to it during their lifetimes or have specific plans for distributing it after their deaths.

You did not mention being named the agent for both your parents in a financial power of attorney, which can sometimes help to make the matter more clear. If there is no power of attorney in place that empowers you to act for both parents, then a possible option would be to put the account in both their names, with you as an authorized signature. Another would be to put the account in their names and your name jointly, if they intend for the money to pass to you at their deaths.