Franklin v. Anna National Bank of Anna
140 Ill.App. 3d 533, 488 N.E.2d 1117 (1986)
Whitehead was having eye
problems. He went to the bank and changed his bank account to make it a
joint account with in sister-in-law, Goddard.
A joint bank account is
considered to be property held in joint tenancy with right of
survivorship, which meant that if either account owner dies, the entire
account is legally owned by the survivor.
Goddard made no deposits or
withdrawals to the account.
Later, Franklin came to care
for Whitehead. He sent the bank a handwritten letter saying that he
wanted the account changed to be jointly held between himself and
According to bank policy,
Goddard's name could not be removed from the account by letter. She
would have to come in and consent to have her name removed.
Whitehead died, Franklin was
named executor and attempted to get the money from the bank account. The
bank balked, and interpleaded to determine if the money should go to
Whitehead's estate or to Goddard.
The Trial Court found that the
money should go to Goddard. Franklin appealed.
Goddard's name was still
legally on the bank account, so as the only surviving joint tenant it was
The Appellate Court reversed
and found that the money should go to Whitehead's estate.
The Appellate Court looked
to Whitehead's intent, and found
that there was clear and convincing evidence that he never had any intent to give a gift to
Goddard, he was using the joint tenancy for his own benefit in case he
needed help getting his money from the bank.
In addition, he had made an
attempt to remove Goddard's name, which also spoke to intent.
The basic rule is that clear
and convincing extrinsic evidence of intent can overcome the plain meaning of a non-probate instrument.
This is slightly different
from the rule with wills. With wills, there must be a latent
ambiguity with a will before you can
bring in extrinsic evidence