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Franklin v. Anna Nat'l Bank - 140 Ill. App. 3d 533, 94 Ill. Dec. 870, 488 N.E.2d 1117 (1986)


In order to go behind the terms of the agreement creating a joint tenancy, the one claiming adversely thereto has the burden of establishing by clear and convincing evidence that a gift was not intended. Each case involving a joint tenancy account must be evaluated on its own facts and circumstances. The form of the agreement is not conclusive regarding the intention of the depositors between themselves. Evidence of lack of donative intent must relate back to the time of creation of the joint tenancy. The decision of the donor, made subsequent to the creation of the joint tenancy, that he did not want the proceeds to pass to the survivor, would not, in itself, be sufficient to sever the tenancy. However, it is proper to consider events occurring after creation of the joint account in determining whether the donor actually intended to transfer his interest in the account at his death to the surviving joint tenant.


Plaintiff executrix sought review of a judgment from the Circuit Court of Union County (Illinois), which was in favor of defendant individual, a co-signer to the decedent's bank accounts, in an action seeking a declaration that funds in a joint savings account were the property of the decedent's estate. The trial judge had found that the individual was the sole owner of the funds in the savings account by right of survivorship as a surviving joint tenant, and that no part of the funds became part of the decedent's estate. On appeal, the executrix argued that the decedent had not intended to make a gift of the savings account to the individual. 


Was there evidence that the gift was not intended when the joint tenancy account was created between the decedent and defendant?




The court noted that just nine months after the individual's name was added to the account, the decedent had attempted to remove her name and substitute that of the executrix. The facts of the case demonstrated that the decedent had made the individual, and later the executrix, a signatory for his own convenience, in case the decedent could not get his money, and not with the intent to effect a present gift. The court further noted that it did not appear that the individual ever exercised any authority or control over the joint account. The court accordingly reversed, concluding that while the decedent's statement that he wanted the individual to have the money in the account if she outlived him suggested donative intent, taken literally the decedent's statement was inconsistent with intent to donate any interest during his lifetime. The court reversed the judgment in favor of the individual, and remanded the case for entry of judgment for the executrix.

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