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Aston Lawyer
Aston Lawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10176
Experience:  Solicitor LLB (Hons) 23 years of experience in Conveyancing and Property Law
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I am an executor for my mothers estate. My mother had a joint

Customer Question

I am an executor for my mothers estate. My mother had a joint bank account with my sister who is joint executor. The account was opened many years ago entirely funded and controlled by my mother.
The day after mothers death my sister closed the account taking some £7000 without telling anyone.
By sheer chance I discovered evidence of the account and obtained the above information direct from the bank. When challenged my sister claimed that the money was intended as a gift for her daughter ( ie mothers grandaughter ). This seems surprising as there are two other siblings and four other grandchildren. My mother's will left everything equally between her four children.
My brother always believed that the account was intended eventually to cover funeral expenses but there is no written evidence.
Can I insist that the amount taken must be paid back to the estate and what is your opinion of this situation.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 2 years ago.

Hello and thanks for using Just Answer.

My name is ***** ***** am happy to assist you with your enquiry.

The starting point is that in English law, money in joint accounts automatically passes to the joint account holder on the death of one of the joint account holders by survivorship. The position has been clarified by the decision handed down in Re v the Estate of Edith Mary Northall Deceased in June 2010 by Mr Justice Richards who decided that that, where a sum of money belonging to a mother was paid into a joint bank account with her son (in this case), there was a presumption that the mother did not intend to make a gift of it to the son on her death. Accordingly the money was held on resulting trust by the son for his mother.

The joint account was opened for reasons of convenience and no thought or consideration was given to a right of survivorship by the son, ie the automatic passing of the account balance to the him on his mother's death. Although the account opening form provided for survivorship (ie the account would pass to the survivor upon the first party dying), this did not assist the son's argument, given that there was no evidence that this part of the form was explained to Mrs Northall or drawn to her attention. There was no agreement between mother and son to the effect that the money was to become his as the surviving bank account holder. The balance of the account at the date of Mrs Northall's death therefore formed part of her estate. Her son was accountable to her estate for all the amounts paid out of the joint account in his favour, except for sums which, on the evidence, were found to be authorised by Mrs Northall herself.

In your case, the facts appear similar and therefore I believe you have a good case to chase your sister for the monies. Hoever, as she has already closed the account, it is whether she will willingly hand over the monies. Litigation can of course be very expensive and may not be worthwhile for what you are trying to re-coup.

I hope this sets out the legal position to you. You would be advised to see a local Solicitor if your sister is not willing to part with the monies.

Kind Regards

AL

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. Has any criminal offense been committed ? I am in a position to insist that the £7000 is taken into account as the main estate has not been distributed. I assume the solicitor dealing with the distribution would have to take the Northall case into account.

Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 1 year ago.
Hi David,
No criminal offence has been committed as on the face of it, the joint account "passes to your sister" so the Bank have not done anything wrong, and the Police would not want to get involved as on the face of it, no criminal act has taken place.
If a Solicitor is dealing with the Estate, I would very much hope that it can be resolved via him/her.
I hope this assists.
Kind Regards
Al
Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 1 year ago.

Hi David,

Can I assist you any further?

Kind Regards

AL

Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 1 year ago.

Hi David,

Please let me know if I can help any further.

Thanks

AL

Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 1 year ago.

Hi David,

Unless I can be of any more assistance, I would be grateful if you could leave positive feedback.

Thanks

AL

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