When you draw up a last Will, you must appoint an executor or personal representative to actually carry out your wishes. The probate court will supervise the administration of the estate as the executor goes about the tasks, so there is indeed oversight.
On the other hand, what if you opened up a joint bank account and made someone a co-account holder? If you were to entrust this individual to distribute the assets after you pass away in accordance with your wishes, there would be no true accountability.
You would clearly select someone that you have a great deal of trust in, but there really are no guarantees. Treachery is one thing, but even someone who is sincere may feel as though you did not make the right choices when you elucidated your wishes. He or she could then go on to handle the money in a manner that is not consistent with your choices.
There are other problems with joint accounts. The resources are considered to be the property of each person on the account. So these assets would count when and if the co-account holder was applying for Medi-Cal to pay for long-term care, even if this individual had contributed nothing into the account.
Another negative possibility involves the creditors of the co-account holder. These funds could be targeted by creditors or claimants even though the co-account holder really didn’t contribute anything into the account.
The truth is that joint accounts are really not the answer. The responsible course of action is to sit down and draw up a proper estate plan with the assistance of a qualified San Jose estate planning lawyer.