Is the money mine? – Issues arising from a joint bank account

09 Apr 2020 Special Update

There are many reasons why people open joint bank accounts. Oftentimes, it is a question of convenience so that the younger or more able person may operate the account for the benefit of the other joint account holder. Other times, with people who are in a relationship of trust, it is with the intention that the surviving joint account holder will have the benefit of the monies in the joint account.

The question as to who is entitled to the monies in a joint account upon the death of the other is unfortunately not so straightforward. There is potentially a distinction between the “legal” owner (the owner in name) and the “beneficial” owner (the true owner). While it is generally undisputed that the survivor will be the legal owner of monies in the joint account when the other joint account holder dies, disputes occasionally arise as to who is the beneficial owner of the monies in the joint account. A typical dispute would be one which arises between the deceased’s estate and the surviving joint account holder, in particular, where the deceased had contributed substantially or even entirely into the joint account.

This update highlights the importance in estate planning for one to consider his/her monies held in joint accounts, and if necessary to stipulate whether this ought to form part of his/her estate.

If you would like information on this or any other area of law, you may wish to contact the partner at WongPartnership whom you normally work with or the following:

SIM Bock Eng
Head – Specialist & Private Client Disputes
d +65 6416 8108
Click here to view Bock Eng's CV.

Vincent HO
Associate – Specialist & Private Client Disputes
+65 6416 6878