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Mom put my sister on her checking account (joint acct). Mom died and left a good deal of money in acct. My sister ended up with my mother's money since banker told her it was hers (joint checking acct). In meantime, found an unsecured bank loan mother had made to grandson, about $15K outstanding and a hospital bill unpaid - $3K. Is my sister responsible to pay these bills from the joint checking account monies she took over?

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Suzy, I suspect ultimately this will case of "the chickens coming home to roost on Sissy and her son." Give it time. Sometimes people are so sharp they cut themselves.
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Two things I would say
1 Don't throw good money after bad
2 Is Sissy skating near the edge of the Law.
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Igloo572, not quite that much and I'd be funding the legal challenge exclusively, so I'm still considering my next step. JPM's actions are just not explainable (banker advising her to default on unsecured loan) so I also think there will be some follow up in the future on this default. Property in trust is for sale, Sissy has defaulted on taxes until it is sold (just found this out on web), and things are just in disarray from that perspective. Although the trust gave her rights to get involved in the market, place margins, etc. she has no idea what this is so these are the least of my worries. Thank you for your thoughts, I'm still considering my next steps..
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igloo572, this is the question I've been asking circuitously, is the trust responsible for debts incurred by the deceased? Sissy is POA, personal rep of trust. This whole thing has been so bizarre since Sissy's banker (JPM) is the one who executed the personal loan to my mother (unsecured) then advised Sissy she could default on it after closing my mother's joint account. JPM knew of the trust (had to produce it to prove personal rep status) and several other assets. Your points above are interesting, the attorney who put together the trust has been useless and charged excessively, but morally felt default was bad. He had no advice on what Sissy's responsibilities were, and the few things she was told, she disregarded. We have no accounting or inventory to review. Just a lot of questions and anger. And more outlay of monies if we want to pursue but the trust clearly states anyone questioning the trust is excluded...
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If mom had a will and there was going to be probate opened, then there would be ways to deal with this within the probate system.

But mom did a trust, so if it was done properly then the estate avoids probate as trust don't do that as they live independently. Now here is where it could get interesting but you would need a good probate or estate attorney to deal with this and it will cost. Trusts need a source of funding in order to live otherwise they will dissolve and defund. So what is feeding the trust and who is the administrator of the trust? Now if you perchance are getting the bill for the 3k for end of life medical stuff, you can send a letter to the hospital with all the contact information on the trust. Believe me, they will bill the trust for the 3K and it will have to be paid as it is an expense of the grantor (your mom was the grantor of the trust). A trust can have debt against it and will have to pay those debts as a fiduciary duty required of a trust. For example, trusts own property and they have to pay property taxes. Somebody is billing the trust for administration too, so who is that person (Sissy or maybe the attorney who did the trust). Now about the grandson loan, who is holding the note? If it's a loan from grannie to grandson, then there probably is nothing you can do except know that this grandson will probably always have financial crisis after crisis in his future. But if it was done through a bank with her & grandson, then the trust can be made to pay as there is a fiduciary duty to pay the debt of the grantor. Hmmm, so does anyone but Sissy have the trust documents?
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Thanks for the advice, helps to get rid of anger. I don't want any of the money she took (my brother does tho). I do, however, believe we should have taken care of my mother's debts. Bottom line, sister talked my mother into giving her son that loan, he has really never paid much of that loan back (therefore, my mother's been paying off the additional $10K he took from her monthly) and he now gets to completely walk away from his responsibility. That is what this really is about and I wondered if there was an unemotional, lawful way to encumber her to pay off that loan..
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Isn't greed an ugly thing?
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I think it is shameful, too. But shameful is not the same as illegal. It is a sad state of affairs. What would you like to see happen? She pays the 2 debts and then splits the money with the rest of the heirs? That sounds fair to me.

How did your sister have access to mother's assets to be able to put money in the joint account? Was she POA? IF there are any grounds for going after the money they might be based on the appropriateness/legality of moving the money into the account in the first place.

As pstiegman says in the first response, you'll really need a lawyer to sort this out and advise you what your legal options are at this point.

Surely it is your sister's name that is being sullied in all this. Your mother is blameless.
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Actually, no she's not, the lawyer thought it was shameful she would follow thru with this since there was such a large amt of money she put into that checking account just prior to my mother's death - sister had been advised by her banker that the money would default to her without question at mom's death. Since none of the other heirs were knowledgeable about her actions and my mother was marginally coherent at this point, it is just a sad state of affairs. No concern about credit history (sure you are using a derisive term to prove your point), as the lawyer put it, "You would sully your mother's name now?"
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suzyq120, Does sister have the advice of a lawyer as she proceeds? If she is following the law (and it sounds to me like she is, but I'm not an expert!) then you might as well relax and accept it. I really wouldn't worry about your mother's credit history at this point.
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A joint checking account doesn't make your sister liable for unpaid debt after mom dies unless your sister's name is also on the debt. I was on my dad's checking account when he died and while there was very little money in there I was not held liable for any debt my dad left just because my name was also on the checking account.
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She is walking away from the debt saying there are no assets, a default on my mother's credit history. Majority of mother's property is in a trust so she feels all these assets are protected.
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As I understand it, your sister owns the money in the joint account. Since it is hers, she does not need to use it to pay somebody else's debt. (I'm talking legally, not morally here.) Are there other assets that can be used to pay the debts?

I'm not an expert and I could easily be wrong on this. I hope an AgingCare expert gives an answer here.

One of my sisters in on a joint account with our mom, to pay bills. There is never much in that account and so none of us would care if she kept it all in the end -- or we'd encourage her to take us all out for dinner to celebrate our mother. Life is sometimes easier when there isn't much money involved!
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You need a lawyer to sort this out. The Executor of the estate has to pay all bills, even from joint funds.
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