A recent decision by the Second Department of New York’s Appellate Division in The Matter of Dubin reported as Slip Opinion 07126 on September 23rd overturned a decision of Nassau County Surrogate which found that a joint account with right of survivorship had passed outside of the decedent’s estate and was not a testamentary asset.
The Appellate Division noted that the existence of a joint account with right of survivorship raises a rebuttable presumption that the individuals creating the account intended for the funds to pass to the survivor upon the death of the joint tenant. This presumption is further bolstered by the survivorship language that is generally used in the boilerplate on forms used to open such a bank account.
The court also cited case law to the effect that the actions of the parties and the facts and circumstances surrounding the creation of the account could be used to rebut the presumption. In this instance, it was determined that the joint account was established merely as a convenience and that the objectant was made a signatory of the account purely to safeguard the decedent’s assets on deposit and for the convenience of the decedent. Upon finding that the account was created merely for the protection and convenience of the decedent, the appellate court ordered that the proceeds be turned over to the estate.