If you go to a bank, or other type of financial institution, to add Agents under Powers of Attorney to your account, do not let the bank convince you to set up a joint account. Why not? As an attorney, I am frequently asked this question.
Well, Agents under Powers of Attorney only have the authority given by you to them with regard to the accounts. The Agents have to keep your funds separate from the Agents’ funds, use your funds for your benefit and keep records on how the funds were spent. If the Agents predecease you, you may need new Agents but your account will not be subject to Pennsylvania inheritance taxes. A joint owner has all of the indicia of ownership – the joint owner can use the money for whatever purpose he or she wants and the joint owner can co-mingle his or her funds with your funds. The joint owner is not required to keep records of how the funds are spent. If the joint owner gets divorced, your account may be included as one of his or her assets to be split in the divorce proceedings. If the joint owner predeceases the original owner, you may be required to pay Pennsylvania inheritance taxes on your own money. So, if you want Agents added to your account, do not let the bank personnel convince you to set up a joint account. Sometimes, an attorney can better help you understand these issues.