Joint Accounts, Divorce & Death of an Owner

What happens to joint accounts owned by a couple who later get divorced? What if the couple fails to split the accounts into their own names after divorce and one of them dies; what is the ownership situation? Typically, joint bank accounts and investment accounts vest to the remaining owner of the account after the other owner dies. However, if the divorced couple co-owned joint accounts prior to their divorce and one of them later passes away, most jurisdictions will treat the ownership of the accounts as one-half owned by the surviving ex-spouse and the other half owned by the estate of the decedent ex-spouse. Long story short, upon divorce, ensure you each split any jointly held accounts into your own names as agreed and dictated by the final decree of divorce.
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