If two PA Cases continue to hold, Your Joint Accounts Might Not Pass To Surviving Joint Owner. We have long believed in the sanctity of the contractual obligation created by a joint account designation. We believed that the joint account would pass automatically to the surviving joint owner regardless of what the decedent’s last will directed. This belief has now been drawn into question by two Pennsylvania cases IN RE: ESTATE OF AMELIA J. PIET 2008 PA Super 72 and In re Novosielski, 937 A.2d 449 (Pa. Super. 2007).
Both of these cases have different sets of fact, but two separate Courts have come to the conclusion that where joint ownership was established after the signing of a will, the joint accounts would pass according to the decent’s last will and testament and not to the surviving joint owner. The Courts further stated that the initial presumption of the Multiple Party Accounts Act, pa 20 Pa.C.S. § 6301 that survivorship rights are established is rebutted by the existance of contrary provisions of a previously signed will.
PLANNING TIPS:1. We suggest that if you make a will and later transfer an account to joint names, you should make a contemporaneous writing that states your intention to make an account joint contrary to the will provisions. 2. You should also consider updating your wills to add a provision that states accounts made joint by you at a later date should not be distributed according to your will unless the joint account is the result of cohersion or fraud. 3. Executors should be careful to consider their obligation to pursue joint accounts being distributed contrary to a decedent’s will.
Please feel free to contact Douglas L. Kaune, Esq. any time at 610-933-8069 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your particular Estate Planning, Probate, Trust Planning and Elder law case to determine the appropriate planning for you and your family.