Last month, April 2018, I wrote a post about the location of debtor’s financial accounts for legal purposes such as garnishment. I stated then that I thought most accounts with national firms would be deemed to be located where the debtor resided. I had received confirmation from one such firm by email. I think the first place you should look to make sure your accounts are situated in Florida is the written account agreement. A financial firm often will address account location in the fine print of the documents they hand new customers.
The issue came up again this month with a client who had a bank account at Chase bank and a brokerage account at Merrill Lynch. He obtained another copy of the Chase Deposit Account Agreement. It says” If you opened your account in person, it is located in the state where you opened it. If you opened your account by mail, internet, or other remote means, and you reside in a state where we had a branch office at that time, it is located in that state….”
The client’s Merrill Lynch account agreement said, “Legal ownership of accounts governed by state of your permanent residence.”
If you are concerned about garnishment of financial accounts, check your account agreements. The best answer is to move accounts to financial institutions that have offices and branches only in Florida. Then, the issue should not come up and you don’t have to worry about asserting these contracts in garnishment actions brought in another state where a judgment was issued.
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