WillMay 20, 2024by Kai Xin YeohWho gets the money when joint bank account holder passed away?

Have you ever wondered what happens to your assets and property after you pass away especially when it is intestate? In this article, we will delve into the complexities of joint bank accounts, explore recent cases, and discuss the importance of estate planning in ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes.


Case Study: Mr. Tan and Mrs. Tan

Mr. Tan and Mrs. Tan opened a joint savings account with a local bank. The bank officer informed them about the ‘survivorship clause’, which provided that upon the death of one account holder, the credit outstanding in the joint account would pass onto the surviving account holder.  When Mr. Tan passed away intestate, Mrs. Tan withdraw the funds from the joint bank account as the surviving account holder without Letter of Administration (LA).

Mr. Tan’s parents want to file a petition for LA to the deceased’s estate and intend to list the joint account as one of the estates. They asked Mrs. Tan to put the money back.  But Mrs. Tan stands by the fact that she is the surviving account holder, and therefore she shall own the entire sum in the joint account.


Can Mrs Tan keep the money as hers?

According to Public Bank v New Ace Digital Print Sdn Bhd [2006] 4 MLJ 395, the bank is required to pay the account balance to the surviving joint account holder upon the death of one account holder, this does not necessarily mean that the survivor owns the money absolutely. The Federal Court emphasized that the bank’s obligation is to pay out the funds, but ownership rights are determined separately.

Besides that, Court of Appeal in Latifah bte Mat Zin v Rosmawati bte Sharibun & Anor [2007] 5 MLJ 101 clarified that the survivorship clause entitles the surviving account holder to receive the funds but does not grant beneficial ownership. The funds can still be part of the deceased’s estate.

Therefore, it can be concluded that Mrs. Tan can withdraw the funds as the surviving account holder based on the survivorship clause. But she does not automatically gain full ownership of the funds. However, Mr. Tan’s parents have the right to file for LA and to list the joint account as part of the deceased’s estate. They can request that Mrs. Tan accounts for the funds and that the estate is distributed according to the rules of intestacy, which could include a portion going to them as Mr. Tan’s parents.


To avoid such conflicts, it is strongly advised that individuals make clear provisions in a Will regarding the distribution of their assets, including joint accounts. This can help ensure that their wishes are followed and reduce potential disputes among surviving family members. Specifically, it is recommended to include the joint account in the Will and explicitly name the joint account holder as the beneficiary for this asset.

You may make an appointment with our legal advisor here: https://calendly.com/finex-and-co-legacy-advisory/tea-talk-with-legalexpert






陈先生和陈太太在本地开设了一个联名户口。工作人员告知他们关于“生存者条款”,这个条款规定了当其中一位账户持有人去世,那账户中的存款可以转移给尚存的账户持有人。陈先生在没有遗嘱的情况下去世后,陈太太作为尚存的持有人,在没有得到遗产管理书(Letter of Administration)的情况下,提取了这个联名账户里的剩余存款。



根据Public Bank v New Ace Digital Print Sdn Bhd [2006] 4 MLJ 395, Bank有义务在其中一位账户持有人去世后将剩余的存款支付给尚存的账户持有人,但这并不意味着尚存的账户持有人对这笔钱拥有所有权。联邦法院强调了Bank的义务是支付剩下的存款,但所有权是由其他因素决定的。

此外,上诉庭在Latifah bte Mat Zin v Rosmawati bte Sharibun & Anor [2007] 5 MLJ 101澄清,生存者条款给予了尚存的账户持有人接收剩下的存款的权利,但并不授予对这笔钱的实际所有权。这些资金任然可以成为已故账户持有人遗产的一部分。