Friday, December 25, 2009

Names on bank accounts - approach with care

A few years ago my Mom added my name to her bank accounts. I didn't give it a second thought until tax time when I got statements for earned interest. She didn't make enough to pay taxes but I did. I had to report it as income on my tax returns!

That impact on me is relatively minor but it made me think - the risk to my Mom is much greater. She ADDED me as a secondary owner of her checking and savings accounts. This means if I were to file bankruptcy, I'd probably have to list half of the value as MY asset. I wonder if creditors could go after half of HER money to pay my debts? What if I were elderly and needed to apply for medicaide - would they make her use half of her funds for my medical expenses?

I've not asked her attorney about it because it was a relatively small amount and it will be consumed for her rent at the ALF soon enough. However, if my financial situation were less stable I'd be quite concerned.