Major Changes Proposed for the Liquor Control Board
Pardon v. Expungement
Queen's English - Historically Speaking
Have A Will, Keep It Current
Latin Lovers Meets Truth or Consequences
Using Experts in Personal Injury Cases
We Have a Tax Code. Yea! Boo!
Avoiding Collection Problems
What are the Statutes of Limitation?
Oral Modification of a Written Lease
Creditor Beware - Preferences in Bankruptcy
Latin Lovers 2010
Your Right to Know
Woodman, Spare that Tree!
Do's and Don'ts when Ponzi Knocks
The New Law on Home Improvements
PA Lawmakers Help Developers by Extending Permit Deadlines
The Roth IRA Conversion Window- - for You?
Unemployment Compensation - The Basics
Presume At-Will Employment with Exceptions
The Queen's English The Verbs To Lie (down) and To Lay
There's No Place Like Home (For Your Business)
Protecting Our Hershey Bar!
Time to Buy (or Sell) a Business?
Reminder: Some 2010 Income Tax Credits
A Night Out Turns Lethal - - Whose Fault?
Severance Packages and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
The Terri Schiavo Story Five Years Later, Still an Avoidable Tragedy
Winning Before Trial: Summary Judgment
Can't Get No Satisfaction...(At Least Without Legal Assistance)
The Queen's English -- Which-Hunting
Curb That Frisky Pup!
Significant New Tax Incentives for Employers
Joint Ownership and the Consequences
When is a Worker an Independent Contractor or an Employee
An Irrepressible Tide, Pardner!
Employee Claims and Bankruptcy
Joint Ownership of Bank Accounts
Cell Phone Records and the Fourth Amendment
Haiti Charitable Contributions Deductible for 2009
Joint Ownership of Bank Accounts
In related articles in this and recent issues, we have discussed the effect of joint ownership of bank accounts. In one article we noted the general rule that the right of survivorship (which causes the ownership of the entire account to pass to the surviving owner) that arises from a joint account overrides the provisions of a will, unless there is clear and convincing evidence that the decedent wanted the account to pass by the will.
However, there is a new judicial quirk added to this analysis. In two relatively recent cases, In re: Estate of Piet and In re: Estate of Novosielski, the Pennsylvania Superior Court has stated that in the event that a joint account with right of survivorship is established after the execution of a valid will, the provisions of the will override the terms of the bank account. This is a dramatic departure from previous law on this topic.
As an example under the previous interpretation of the law, if A and B owned an account, as joint tenants, and A died, B would succeed to the whole account irrespective of what A's will had to say about the disposition of A's property. However, under the two new cases, if A & B are joint owners of an account, and A has made a will prior to the account's being set up that gives the account to a party other than B, the pre-existing will provisions were viewed by the Superior Court as overriding the right of survivorship that otherwise would arise from joint ownership. Oddly, the Piet Court indicated that if the will was made after the account was established, this would not defeat the right of survivorship implicit in the joint ownership of the account.
Again, this is a departure from existing law. It also ignores the fact that jointly owned property in anything but bank accounts, is not affected by the terms of a will, whether that will is made before or after the property is made joint.
It should be noted that the holding in the first of these cases is now being reviewed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and it will be interesting to see whether this aberration from existing law will continue to survive the Supreme Court's review. We will keep you posted on further developments.