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Siblings Fight Over Deceased Parent’s Bank Accounts

This is a case being heard in the First Department, Appellate Division, of the Supreme Court. This issue being appealed in this case is whether the petitioner, who is the son of the decedent and the ancillary executor of the estate, has overcome the presumption that certain joint bank accounts that were established by the decedent were intended to vest property rights to his sister who is named as the joint account holder, which would constitute testamentary substitutes that would pass outside of the will.

Case Background

There are five joint bank accounts at issue in this proceeding out of a total of 16 accounts that were opened by the decedent. Of the total of 16 accounts, eight of the accounts have her daughter designated as the joint tenant. A New York Probate Lawyer said the amount of these accounts comes to $216,842. The other eight accounts designate the petitioner as the joint tenant and amount to $223,782.

The decedent also left a will that left a burial plot and her residual estate, including a home located in Whitestone, Queens, to her children.

The issue of the accounts came into question when the petitioner moved his mother to Alabama to live near him. During this process he attempted to relocate all of the decedent’s bank accounts to Alabama as well. This is when the joint accounts of his mother and sister were found. His sister then moved the money from the accounts into separate accounts until a ruling could be made in regard to their proper place.

New York City Probate Lawyers said hearings have been conducted regarding this issue and the Surrogate found that the joint accounts in issue were accounts of convenience. The respondent has stated that these accounts were created as a way to pay for her mother’s expenses. The respondent is simply seen as the accountant for her mother. She moved the five accounts as a way to protect her interest after she saw that her brother had closed the other three accounts that she shared with her mother.

Court Discussion and Decision

When reviewing the record of appeal in this case the court finds that the behavior of the petitioner is simple avarice. Whatever motives that he had it is clear that his conduct was the cause of the disputed transfer of funds by his sister.

The Surrogates Court granted the petitioner’s motion for the five bank accounts to be released and turned over to him. After reviewing the facts of the case, the court is reversing this order. The previous decree is vacated and the accounts will be turned over to the sister. All of the eight accounts that were joint in name by the sister and the decedent are released to the sister.

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