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Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
May I ask the reason you shared a joint bank account with yout mother please - e.g. was this just for convenience so you could easily pay her bills but the money all belonged to her or was there another reason and some of the money in the account belonged to you?
Thank you for the above. I am just about to go out for the evening. With your permission rather than giving you a rushed response now may I revert to you in detail in the morning?
If that is alright with you, you will receive or at least should receive an email when I respond but in any event it should be before 11am.
Is that ok by you?
Thank you for the above.
The starting point is that if the account was in joint names, any money in the account automatically passes to you upon your mothers death by survivorship unless your mother notified the bank that the account should be maintained other than jointly which was not the case from what you say. However this default position has been modified by the decision handed down in Re 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 court decided that the money was held on something called a resulting trust by the son for his mother.
In this case, the joint account was opened for reasons of convenience and no thought or consideration was given to a right of survivorship by the mother, ie the automatic passing of the account balance to the son on his mother's death. Although the account opening form provided for survivorship, 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 was decided formed part of her estate to be dealt with under the terms of her will. It was decided that 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.
Accordingly a default starting position is that you can claim the monies by right of survivorship however if this is challenged by any other beneficiairies and they indicated that they are prepared to litigate on the matter is necessary, in order to successfully defend such a claim, you would need to be able to show that your mother intended to make a gift of the money to in the account to you in order to sustain your position.
Accordingly it is up to you how you wish to proceed. It is quite legal for you to keep the money as your own by survivorship but would need to consider the position carefully as above if that decision was subsequently challenged. Alternatively you may prefer to give up the money to the estate if you cannot show that your mother intended the money to be a gift and distribute it under the terms of her will or if no will was made, the intestacy rules in order to avoid any possibility of contention.
Does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help you with any further?
Has the above answered your questions satisfactorily?
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