PDA

View Full Version : Bank as intermediary?



JoNightshade
07-11-2008, 01:38 AM
Here's the situation:

Daughter believes her father to be dead until her mother passes away and she finds evidence to the contrary in her mother's effects.

Father wants daughter to believe he is dead and has covered his tracks pretty well. However, he had kept mother supplied with whatever funds she needed through a bank account. Bank account reverts to his control upon death of mother.

Daughter notices the account because it's the only one that is not now under her control, and concludes it belongs to her father. The bank refuses to give her an address, but agrees to forward a letter for her.

Is this reasonable/plausible?

Mike Martyn
07-11-2008, 02:15 AM
How does the bank revert to the father's control on death of the father? Most likely if they were in joint tenancy (a legal term which means they would have signing authority on eh account and upon the death of either of them, the account reverts to the survivor)

Did the mother have a will and is the daughter the executrix? If so, she'd be entitled to the bank records and could find out an address.

Perhaps instead the father could have established a trust through a law firm. That way you have all sorts of interesting possibilities. As a lawyer I would listen to what she had to say, remain non commital but most likely contact the father explaning that we'd had this conversation and leave it to the father.

Again though, if you were the executor of the mother's estate, you'd be entitled to any information that the mother would have been entitled to. Mind you I suppose the instructions to the law firm might be to deposit the funds to the account but never reveal there source.

. So the bank could tell her that they came by deposit from the law firm of Dewy, Billum and Howe and she could contact teh firm.


As an aside, I practise in the area of wills and estates. If we act for an estate, we write all the banks in the area to determine whether the deceased had bank accounts there. A couple of years ago I acted for a husband whose wife had passed away. One of the bank searches came back confirming that the deceased had a bank account there and it was joint but the joint holder was a man that the husband had never heard of.

JoNightshade
07-11-2008, 02:21 AM
Wow, super info, Mike! Specially since I have no clue how this stuff works. :)

It sounds like doing the law firm thing would be a better option.

So how about this: dad periodically deposits funds into bank account via the intermediary of a law firm. Daughter finds records of deposits in mother's account and tracks them to the law firm. Firm has already been warned not to give info under any circumstances but is willing to transmit a letter.

Did I get that right? :)

Mike Martyn
07-11-2008, 03:13 AM
Wow, super info, Mike! Specially since I have no clue how this stuff works. :)

It sounds like doing the law firm thing would be a better option.

So how about this: dad periodically deposits funds into bank account via the intermediary of a law firm. Daughter finds records of deposits in mother's account and tracks them to the law firm. Firm has already been warned not to give info under any circumstances but is willing to transmit a letter.

Did I get that right? :)

That's pretty much it. Typically the father would have set up a "blind" trust at the law firm. The law firm's response might vary. If there were instructoins not to reveal the details then they would be bound by solicitor client priviledge not to do so. They might refuse to provide her with any information even that her father is involved. However with out telling her or agreeing they might contact the father and explain that the dughter is asking about him.

Then the Ningas would attack or a mysterious government agency would come calling. Bwa Ha Ha!!

JoNightshade
07-11-2008, 03:33 AM
Then the Ningas would attack or a mysterious government agency would come calling. Bwa Ha Ha!!

THAT was what happened in my last draft. Sadly, the assassins are being edited out as we type. ;)

ideagirl
07-11-2008, 06:12 PM
How does the bank revert to the father's control on death of the father?

I think she said it reverted to his control upon the death of the mother. That would be plausible, since that's what would happen if it were a joint account--he would be the survivor of the mother.


Did the mother have a will and is the daughter the executrix? If so, she'd be entitled to the bank records and could find out an address.

I'm not sure that's true for a normal joint account (one where the executor knows the joint account holder is alive, etc.). One of the features of joint tenancy is that the item held that way (bank account, house, whatever) automatically goes to the survivor upon the death of the other joint tenant--which is to say, here, the bank account would not be part of the mother's estate anymore at all, because it would go automatically to the father.

However, this not being a normal situation... Because the father presumably vanished a fairly long time ago and tried to make it look like he was dead, it would be totally reasonable for the daughter to challenge the bank's determination that the account should go to her father. She could argue, basically, "As far as I know my father is dead, so I need to see proof from you, Bank, that whoever you're giving control of that bank account to actually is my father--because it could be some scam artist who stole my father's identity or something, and if that were the case, then I would sue you for not turning that account over to my mother's estate."

The way this would probably arise is that she (or whoever the executor/executrix is) would contact the bank to let them know her mom's dead and she's the executrix, so that the account can be probated. Then the bank would respond, "Wait, this is a joint account, so it goes to the joint account holder--your dad." Then the daughter would respond by having the estate's probate lawyer send a Mean Lawyer letter to the bank, demanding proof that this man (her father) is who he says he is. That, presumably, would require giving her his address, among other things.

Mike Martyn
07-11-2008, 08:42 PM
That's why it would be better to do it through a law firm. Banks are such wussses when it comes to this sort of thing.

As to the joint tenancy thing, you're right it usually reverts to the surviving joint tenant and consequently does not form part of the deceased's estate. Not alway though. It depends on the intention of the person who set up the account. I just finished litigating this very subject with respect to a series of JT accounts totalling about six million which is certainly enough to fight over. Bear in mind I practise law in British Columbia.

ideagirl
07-12-2008, 06:03 PM
That's why it would be better to do it through a law firm. Banks are such wussses when it comes to this sort of thing.

It would indeed be better, from the father's perspective, to do it through a law firm. But it might be better, from this writer's perspective, to do it through the bank--that way she doesn't have to go off on some tangent about whatever legal battle the character gets into with the trust/the law firm in order to make them hand over her father's address. From the perspective of the story it's simpler to have it just be the bank, and that's also totally realistic in that most people don't involve law firms in their everyday financial affairs--they just set up joint bank accounts with their spouses.


As to the joint tenancy thing, you're right it usually reverts to the surviving joint tenant and consequently does not form part of the deceased's estate. Not alway though. It depends on the intention of the person who set up the account. I just finished litigating this very subject with respect to a series of JT accounts totalling about six million which is certainly enough to fight over. Bear in mind I practise law in British Columbia.

I practice law in the U.S., and that sounds bizarre to me--joint tenancy is joint tenancy; the intent of the people who established the account is shown by the fact that they established it as a joint tenancy. But I suppose, for six million bucks, even here in the States a person might try to drag the issue into the courts. In any case, the default would be that the money would go to the surviving joint tenant--here, the father--and the estate of the deceased joint tenant (the mother) would then have to fight the bank over that. But here, since the daughter thinks her father is dead, her first step would not be to challenge whether the account was really a joint tenancy--it would just be to challenge whether the person claiming to be her father actually was her father, as opposed to some identity-stealing scam artist. And for that, she would certainly be able to send a mean-lawyer letter to the bank and make them cough up the father's contact information.