OWM Newsletter
May, 2011
www.owmlaw.com

 

Attorney Spotlight

John A. Koury, Jr., Esq., is a graduate of the Hill School in Pottstown, the University of Pittsburgh, and received his law degree from Duquesne University. He resides with his wife in Phoenixville and is the proud father of three sons and grandfather of two granddaughters.

Mr. Koury is the Managing Partner of O’Donnell, Weiss & Mattei, P.C., and his areas of practice include Land Use, Municipal, Real Estate, Banking, Corporate, Estates and Elder Law.

He has been very active in the Montgomery Bar Association as well as many community organizations; as a Former Director of Visiting Nurse Association of Pottstown and Vicinity, Past President and Director of The Schuylkill River Greenway Association, Montgomery County Community College Foundation, Former Bank Director and General Counsel to Elverson National Bank, Member of Advisory Board for National Penn Bank and as a Director of National Penn Investors Trust Company. In addition, he has served as the Solicitor for East Coventry Township, Upper Providence Township Zoning Hearing Board, and Pottstown Area Industrial Development Corp., as well as various other municipalities.

Having personally served clients in the tri-county area for over 40 years, Mr. Koury leads OWM with a strong sense of commitment to community and with high standards of professional competence.

Phone: 610-323-2800
Fax: 610-323-2845
Email: jkoury@owmlaw.com



The material in this publication was created as of the date set forth above and is based on laws, court decisions, administrative rulings and congressional materials that existed at that time, and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on specific facts. The information in this publication is not intended to create, and the transmission and receipt of it does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship.

 

Multiple-Party Accounts Act As To
Joint Accounts Passing to Surviving Owners

Are jointly registered accounts, specifically "convenience accounts," controlled by the Multiple-Party Accounts Act ("MPAA")?   YES

[NOTE:   A prior panel of the Superior Court previously interpreted Paragraph 6304(a) of the MPAA as not creating a presumption of survivorship where such a presumption conflicted with a pre-existing Will that manifested a different testamentary intent as to the property at issue.  See OWM Newsletter - April, 2010, discussing the March 25, 2010, decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court which reversed the Pennsylvania Superior Court’s Decision. In Re Estate of Alice G. Novosielski, Deceased.]

  • Statute:   The Multiple Party Accounts Act 20 PA.C.S.A. 6301-6306 has been upheld by the Pennsylvania Superior Court on remand from the PA Supreme Court as set forth in the Pa Superior Court Decision In Re:  Amelia J. Piet, Deceased, No. WDA2007, Memorandum Decision filed April 26, 2011, in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.

  • Facts:  On April 13, 2004, the Decedent, Amelia J. Piet, died at the age of 80, leaving to survive her four (4) children.  On April 28, 2004, the Decedent’s Will was probated with daughter, Ann Ball, and son, Edward J. Piet, being appointed as Co-Executors. Decedent’s husband, Edward A. Piet, had died on June 29, 1986, and all assets of the couple passed to the Decedent, Amelia J. Piet.  After the death of her husband, the Decedent relied upon the financial experience of her two (2) oldest children, both of whom she then appointed as Co-Executors of her estate.

  • Main issue on appeal to the Superior Court:  Whether nine (9) bank or investment accounts entered into jointly with right of survivorship by the Decedent and daughter, Ann Ball, as to eight (8) accounts, or Edward J. Piet, as to one (1) account are probate assets.  These nine (9) accounts were not listed as estate assets and the co-Executors Ann Ball and Edward J. Piet, testified that said accounts were intended to be joint accounts, and that the Decedent wanted them to retain the assets after Decedent’s death.

  • Trial Court:  By its Order of September 18, 2006, found that two (2) joint accounts were ‘convenience accounts’ and probate assets; but that the remaining seven (7) joint accounts were not probate assets; and that no written or oral family settlement agreement existed requiring the sharing of all assets including these accounts equally among the four (4) children.

  • Alleged Error by the Trial Court:  Finding that Convenience Accounts are subject to inclusion in Probate Estate despite joint registration of same.

  • Superior Court Analysis:   All issues relating to the joint bank accounts are addressed by Paragraph 6304(a) of MPAA and the rebuttable presumption that jointly held bank accounts exist with right of survivorship should one of the parties thereto die.  Said presumption can only be overcome by clear and convincing evidence that it was not the intent of the parties that the bank account was jointly held with right of survivorship.

Paragraph 6304.  Right of Survivorship  (a) Joint account. … any sums remaining on deposit on the death of a party to a joint account belong to the surviving party or parties as against the estate of the Decedent unless there is clear and convincing evidence of a different intent at the time the account is created . . . 

  • Superior Court Decision:  Evidence of Decedent’s sole funding of "convenience account" as jointly registered and Decedent’s treating the account as her own during her lifetime do not establish clear and convincing evidence that the Decedent did not intend to confer a right of survivorship.

  • Discussion:

(1)    The trial court’s decision was based on the fact that two (2) of the accounts were set up merely as ‘convenience accounts’ and that the funds in the account were deposited entirely by the Decedent.  Recent case law, however, indicates that neither of these reasons overcomes the right of survivorship presumed under Paragraph 6304(a) of the MPAA.  The trial court’s reasoning was wholly at odds with PA Superior Court’s interpretation of the provisions of Paragraph 6304(a).

(2)    The MPAA makes it clear that the joint accounts with a presumed right of survivorship are not treated as intervivos gifts from one account holder to another.  Rather, the MPAA plainly provides:  "A joint account belongs, during the lifetime of all parties, to the parties in proportion to the net contributions by each to the sum on deposit, unless there is clear and convincing evidence of a different intent."  See Paragraph 6303(a).

(3)    The theory of these sections is that the basic relationship of the parties is that of individual ownership of values attributable to their respective deposits and withdrawals; the right of survivorship which attaches unless negated by the form of the account really is a right to the values theretofore owned by another which the survivor receives for the first time at the death of the owner (emphasis added).  That is to say that the account operates as a valid disposition at death rather than as a present joint tenancy when the account is established in the first instance and during the lifetime of all parties.

(4)    See OWM Newsletter of April, 2010, for suggestions as to methods of providing "clear and convincing evidence of intent" in disposing of your property upon your death before establishing such joint accounts, changing title names, or executing or revising your Will.


UPCOMING EVENTS

Read Legal Ease every other Sunday in the Pottstown Mercury.

See Legal Talk, brought to you by OWM, on PCTV, Tuesdays at 8:30 on Channel 28, and Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on Channel 98, and also on our website at  http://www.owmlaw.com/legal_talk/legal_talk.php.

David A. Megay, Esq. and James C. Kovaleski, Esq., speaking at SCORE business planning seminars on 9/12/11, and 11/7/11 (contact SCORE at 610-327-2673).

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O'Donnell,Weiss & Mattei, P.C.

41 E. High Street
Pottstown, PA 19464
610-323-2800
Fax: 610-323-2845

347 Bridge Street, Suite 200
Phoenixville, PA 19460
610-917-9347
Fax: 610-917-9348

www.owmlaw.com