A joint bank account is a ubiquitous and popular way to own an account with one’s spouse, children, loved ones and friends. If the account is a joint account with rights of survivorship, the account will pass to the surviving named account holder(s) upon the death of any joint tenant.
Additionally, Section 675 of the NY Banking Law creates a presumption that a bank account created in the name of two or more persons which is to be paid to either of them or the survivor, in the absence of any evidence of fraud and /or undue influence will vest title to the survivor named on the account. The party seeking to challenge title to the account passing to the survivor has the burden of proving that undue influence and/or fraud existed.
For example, the bank representative's recollection of advising the account holder that the balance in the account would be paid to the survivor upon the death of the other account holder and/or that the bank has a policy that all joint accounts are survivorship accounts, may serve as extrinsic evidence that the account was a joint account with rights of survivorship. The courts have also relied on electronic signature cards having the designation "J" as in "joint account" as evidence in support of the presumption under Section 675 of the Banking Law.
Additional factors the courts have relied upon in support of the presumption of survivorship rights are a joint holder making withdrawals from the account for his or her sole benefit; the decedent receiving statements and cancelled checks for the account; and the absence of evidence that the account holder was incapacitated or the victim of undue influence and/or fraud at the time the account was opened.