Can a Right of Survivorship Bank Account Be Challenged?

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Can right of survivorship bank account be challenged

As people get older, they think more about their finances and passing money on to the next generation. Some people set up right-of-survivorship bank accounts to facilitate a smooth transition of funds. People without these bank accounts have their money go to their estates after they die. It’s then up to the estate to distribute funds fairly, but this process can take a while. Right-of-survivorship bank accounts help heirs avoid this obstacle, but it’s possible to challenge these accounts.

Understanding the basics of survivorship rights

Survivorship rights protect spouses if their partner dies. It enables a quick transfer of funds to your designated heirs. This arrangement usually takes place through a joint account, typically between spouses and their children. If one account holder dies, the surviving account holder(s) get access to the funds in the joint account. However, the implementation of survivorship rights doesn’t always go smoothly. Right-of-survivorship bank accounts can be challenged in some cases.

How to determine whether a survivorship bank account can be challenged

If you want to know the status of a survivorship bank account, these steps can help you determine whether you can challenge survivorship rights.

1. Review the original contract

When you make any legal challenge, it’s important to read the fine print. The original contract of the joint account can reveal whether survivorship rights are part of the bank account. Not all bank accounts have survivorship rights intact, and if you have a joint account that you believe should have survivorship rights, you should check with your bank.

2. Consider any debts or liabilities 

Debt does not vanish. It’s an obligation you have to repay, but some people do not outlive their debt. You may have to use funds in a joint account to cover the deceased person’s liabilities before dispersing the funds to heirs. Debtors and creditors may try to claim funds in the account, and it can add insult to injury if the survivor contributed most of the joint bank account’s funds.

3. Consider a legal claim

Right of survivorship usually applies to people with a legal connection to the deceased individual. The surviving account holder may have to verify they are the deceased account holder’s spouse or child. If none of these conditions apply to the survivor, proof of co-ownership should be sufficient.

4. Hire an attorney

The legal landscape can get complicated in a hurry, especially for people with no legal experience. An attorney can guide you on how to approach right of survivorship and what your legal rights are. Receiving some guidance before challenging a right of survivorship or defending your survivorship rights can save you time and money. 

5. Go to court

Some right-of-survivorship bank accounts become the center of legal battles. The court can shed light on various claims not covered on this list and provide a conclusion after listening to both sides.

How to prepare formal contestation of survivorship rights

If you want to contest survivorship rights, you may need legal help along the way. You will have to follow through with the steps below to prepare a formal contestation of survivorship rights.

1. Determine the legal basis for challenging the survivorship of bank accounts

You need legal grounds to challenge survivorship rights. An attorney can walk you through the different ways to challenge the survivorship bank account and your choices. If someone targets your right-of-survivorship account, an attorney can provide legal guidance to increase the likelihood of a positive outcome in court.

2. Prepare a formal document

You will have to create a formal document detailing your contestation and its foundation. An attorney can help you craft a document with legal terms to make your contestation more professional.

3. Submit the contestation 

After you finalize the document with an attorney, it’s time to submit your contestation. The bank can provide information that verifies the joint account survivorship rights are legitimate or demonstrate that you were right to challenge the survivorship account. Although court is more time-consuming and expensive, you will have to submit the contestation to court for legal action.

Challenging a Bank Account Right of Survivorship

It’s possible to challenge a right-of-survivorship bank account, but it’s not for everyone. Understanding your choices can help you determine whether this is the right course of action or whether you should opt against challenging a right of survivorship. Reaching out to an attorney and receiving their feedback may result in a better decision.


Can someone contest a joint bank account?

A joint bank account can be contested because of fraud, incompetence, or other reasons. However, you should be prepared to take swift action with a lawyer.

Can a beneficiary be contested on a bank account?

A beneficiary can be contested on a bank account in court. The executioner can also act in what they believe is the deceased’s best interests.

Can you remove someone from a joint bank account without their permission?

In most cases, you cannot remove someone from a joint bank account without their permission. Some banking contracts may allow you to remove someone without permission, but these contracts are rare.

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