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Civil Rights

Answered! What Happens to Your Loved One’s Money on Being Jailed?

— December 13, 2018

It’s distressing when a loved one is jailed. Added to that stress is the possibility that they may not be able to access their money while incarcerated. However, there are options available to relieve that stress.

You may think that being jailed relieves an inmate from financial responsibilities like paying their bills or repaying any loans that they may have taken. However, this is far from the truth. Getting imprisoned takes away numerous benefits that your loved one would have otherwise enjoyed as a free citizen of the country.

For instance, being imprisoned seriously affects your ability to be in control of your finances and handling your bank account. The best thing that you can do is apply for bail. This gives you the leeway to make the necessary monetary arrangements needed to be made. Following are some of the situations that arise with respect to money when your loved one is in jail.

The money stays in the concerned account

Although your imprisoned loved one cannot necessarily access their bank account, the money that is contained within it still belongs to them. For as long as they serve their sentence, they will be the rightful owner. However, this is a conditional situation largely dependent on the nature of the crime committed. If your loved one has been convicted of a crime where they have benefited financially, like dealing drugs or insider trading, the government is more than likely to take charge of the situation by freezing the bank account.

The bank may freeze the money

While this isn’t due to any legal reason (other than that mentioned above), it is essentially done from a security point of view. If a bank account hasn’t been active in a long time, the authorities much prefer to freeze it. This cuts an inmate’s ability to access the funds. The only way to get the bank to activate the account again is to contact them and follow the necessary procedure that they may outline. In such a situation where your loved ones may not have access to money, you could rely on some guides and portals such as Inmate101 to send them care packages and even money. They could use this money to speak on the phone with you or to pay for any immediate legal fees.

Black and white picture of a prison from outside the fence; image by Brad.K, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0, no changes.
Black and white picture of a prison from outside the fence; image by Brad.K, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0, no changes.

The money or assets can be transferred to you

As an inmate, your loved one loses access to their bank account and whilst the money may be legal and usable, the simple fact that they can’t access it may cause banks to freeze the account, rendering the funds within it unusable. In such a situation, you could have your loved one transfer their money and assets over to your account so that you can furnish them with the necessary money and items as needed. Besides, this money can also be used to pay their bills if they live separately from you. Your loved one can have the leftover money and assets transferred back to their account on their release.

Hire a financial professional to look after the funds

If you believe that you are not responsible enough to handle your loved one’s funds whilst they serve their sentence, the next best thing you can do is encourage them to have their assets put together in a trust. A reliable financial professional could then be given power of attorney to undertake financial decisions on the inmate’s behalf.

Giving authority to someone they trust

If your loved one is uncomfortable handing over control of their assets to a complete stranger, they can give the authority to look after their expenses to someone they trust, like an immediate family member or spouse. This does not require them to transfer the assets and funds to another account. It simplifies the process wherein you can use their funds to support them when needed. While it is possible to send care packages, in some instances this may not be possible.

Prison trust account

While it’s true that, as an inmate, your loved one may not have access to their own funds in their bank accounts, there is a prison trust that is set up for inmates to which you can transfer funds. Your loved one can access this prison trust fund to withdraw money for use within the prison. The rules for these funds vary largely by the state in which your loved one has been imprisoned and therefore, you may have to check with the authorities first before choosing this option.

Seeing your loved one imprisoned is a heartbreaking feeling. It is particularly stressful when you know that they may have very limited access to money to care for themselves. In such a situation, it is helpful to know how you can be there for them and provide as much care and support as possible.

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