What happens to the joint account in the event of inheritance?

What happens to the joint account in the event of inheritance?

Deaths often bring the relatives of the deceased to the limits of their endurance, because in addition to coping with the grief, a number of legal problems relating to the inheritance, which are not infrequently complicated, also have to be clarified. One of the questions that may arise after the death of a relative is: What happens to the joint account in the event of inheritance?? What has to be considered in the event of the death of the account holder is to be explained as clearly as possible on the basis of this article.

transfer of the estate to the heir

According to §1922 BGB all rights and obligations of the deceased pass to his heirs. Accordingly, account balances, that is, claims against a bank under a savings contract or a checking contract, also pass to the heir or heirs. In the case of a joint account, which is often also referred to as a joint account, only the share of the joint credit balance to which the decedent is entitled passes to the heirs or. the heir or heirs take the place of the now deceased account holder.

But what share of the joint account balance is due to the testator?? This cannot be answered in a blanket manner, but depends on the agreement reached between the account holders. If only one of the account holders pays into the joint account, it must regularly be assumed that only this person is the beneficial owner. However, the situation is different in the case of spouses. If only one spouse pays into the joint account, a donation to the other account holder may be intended. This could, incidentally, also have implications with regard to gift tax and the compulsory portion. Here, there is no way around investigating the actual will of the deceased depositor, whereby the purpose of the transfer and the actual handling can serve as indications.

In the event that it cannot be clarified which share of the joint account can be attributed to the decedent, it is assumed in accordance with §430 BGB that the decedent had a share in the amount of half of the balance of the joint account.

Disposition of the joint account in the event of inheritance

The clarification of the deceased's share in the joint account must be strictly separated from the question of whether the deceased's heir can make dispositions over the joint account after the deceased's death. First of all, a distinction must be made between "and" and "or" accounts. In the case of Or accounts, each account holder alone may dispose of the assets in the joint account, so that the surviving account holder may also dispose of the account accordingly alone. If, however, a disposition is made for an amount in excess of the amount to which he or she is actually entitled in the joint account, he or she may be required to pay compensation to the heirs. Something else applies in the case that he has acted on the express order of the testator. A practical example would be the order of the testator to his spouse to pay the costs of his funeral from the joint account. Then the heir cannot demand repayment. Heirs and co-heirs can also revoke the power of disposal. In this case, however, the bank may require proof of the right of inheritance.

In the case of an "and" account, the joint account holders have joint power of disposal, so that the surviving joint account holder may only dispose of the joint balance with the consent of the heir. In the case of a community of heirs, the consent of all co-heirs must be given. However, the co-heirs can authorize a member of the community of heirs to represent them, which is also done comparatively often for reasons of easier practicability.

Powers of attorney for the joint account in the event of inheritance

If third parties have power of attorney for the disposal of the joint account, it should be noted that this often does not expire at the same time as the deceased's death. If an authorized representative makes use of the power of attorney, however, he may not abuse it, but must act in the interests of the deceased or at least obtain the consent of the heirs for his actions. In the event of misuse, the holder of the power of attorney may be liable to prosecution for breach of trust under §266 of the German Criminal Code (StGB). Banks are not obliged to check whether the power of attorney is being exercised in the deceased's interests. Only in cases of obvious misuse can and must banks refuse to execute the order instructed by the authorized representative.

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