Who Is in Charge of a Person’s Assets While They Are in Prison?

Posted On January 23, 2023 Criminal Defense Written by John Allen Phebus

If you get sent to jail or prison in Arizona, you will no longer have the same access to your bank accounts or assets. If there are still bills to be paid while you are incarcerated, this needs to be arranged ahead of time. Putting someone you trust in charge of your assets is important if you have been arrested or are facing criminal charges in Arizona.

What Happens to Your Bank Accounts?

If you are sentenced to time in jail or prison as part of your sentence after being convicted of a crime in Arizona, your bank accounts may be frozen. The government may freeze your accounts if it is believed that the crime you were convicted of benefitted you financially. If you were convicted of a white-collar crime or of selling drugs, for example, the government may freeze your accounts or even seize the funds. Your bank may also freeze your accounts if there has not been any activity for several months while you have been in jail.

Can You Access Your Money in Prison?

You will not have access to your regular bank accounts while serving time in Arizona. However, you can access a prison trust account that is arranged by the state. You can make approved purchases from catalogs through this account. You can arrange to have someone you trust on the outside send money from your regular bank account to the prison trust account for you to use for approved items.

Who Manages Your Assets While in Prison?

If you have assets that need to be managed, such as bills that need to be paid or rental properties that need upkeep, you will need to delegate someone to handle these assets for you. Ideally, you will be able to post bail after you are arrested and spend time at home to make these arrangements. Otherwise, you will need to make them from jail, potentially with help from a criminal defense lawyer.

One option is to temporarily assign your assets to a trusted family member or friend while you are in prison. It is important to realize, however, that once you transfer your assets, the recipient is not obligated to return them to you when you are released from prison. It is critical to only give this responsibility to someone that you fully trust.

A safer alternative is giving legal authority over your assets to a trustee. This gives someone the legal right to act on your behalf while you are incarcerated. It does not give ownership of or access to your assets to the trustee. Instead, they have limited control over your accounts and assets to help you manage things while you are in prison.

Finally, you could put everything in a trust and give power of attorney to a financial professional. The professional will have a legal obligation to keep your best interests in mind when making any decisions about your money or assets. If you have a large number of assets, this may be the best option for you.

What Happens to Your Government Benefits?

If you are the recipient of any government benefits, including Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, disability benefits or veterans benefits, you may lose these benefits when you go to prison. Most government benefits stop after 30 days or a full calendar month of incarceration. You may receive certain benefits for longer, however, such as veterans benefits for 60 days. Once you are released from prison, you can apply to get any lost benefits back. If your benefits are restored after your release, you will receive a payment for any day that you were eligible.

For more information about what happens to your bank accounts, money and assets while you are in prison, contact a criminal defense attorney in Arizona for advice or read this guide here.