Am I personally responsible for a bad check written by the other person on our joint checking account?
Yes. If the bank account is owned jointly, you are each personally liable for any bad checks written on the account regardless of who wrote them.
How do I know if I am a joint owner or a beneficiary of a bank account?
The ownership of an account and the designation of a pay on death beneficiary are set forth in the Contract of Deposit with the bank. All accounts are opened with a Contract of Deposit. If you are the owner of an account, you are entitled to obtain a copy of the Contract of Deposit from the bank.
How do I stop payment on a check I wrote?
In Washington, the law allows you to stop payment on a check for 14 days upon your verbal request to the bank and up to 6 months upon your written request. For a stop payment longer than 14 days banks usually charge a small fee.
Someone stole one of my checks, forged my signature, and my bank cashed it. Can the bank do that?
Technically, a forged check written on your account is an unauthorized check, and your bank has no authority to pay it. However, the law does require that you review your checks and bank statements within a reasonable period of time and notify the bank in the event you discover an unauthorized check that has been paid. Your failure to review your account could provide the bank with a defense to paying the check over a forged signature.
I deposited a check into my checking account and received a receipt, but when I wrote checks on the account they were not paid by my bank due to insufficient funds. Can the bank do this?
It depends. Any time you deposit a check drawn upon another’s account into your account, the bank gives you a provisional credit on the account. The bank is placing a hold on the deposit. How long a bank delays crediting the entire amount depends on the amount of the check. In general, if the check you deposited is less than $5,000 you are entitled to at least a $200.00 credit the first business day following deposit. For checks over $5,000.00 the bank must credit your account on the second business day following deposit. If your account has been opened for less than 30 days the funds might not be available until the 9th business day. If your account has been overdrawn for two or more business days in excess of $5,000 in the previous 6 months, the bank can hold the credit for 7 business days. Insurance checks have different rules as do some government checks.
I received a notice that my bank account was being garnished because of a judgment entered against me. What does this mean, and what can I do about it?
A judgment properly entered against you may be collected by garnishment of your wages or your bank account. When your bank receives a Writ of Garnishment, it must freeze so much of your account that equals the amount asked for in the Writ. If the bank does not do this, it could be liable to pay your judgment debt. In Washington, some funds held in your bank account may be exempt from garnishment but it is up to you to prove that in court to have the Writ of Garnishment cancelled.
When my mother died, her bank transferred all of the funds in her account to my brother, even though my brother and I are to share equally under my mother’s Will. Can the bank do this?
In Washington, the bank may lawfully pay funds to the survivor of an account held jointly with rights of survivorship or to the individual named as a pay on death beneficiary in the contract of deposit. If your brother was designated as either in the Contract of Deposit, the bank is not liable to you for the funds. You might be able to contest this payment to your brother in probate proceedings.