Other Matters

Multiple-Party Accounts
Trust Account

Bank of America, N.A. v. Haag, 37 S.W.3d 55 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2000, no pet.).


Depositor opened a trust account naming Son as the beneficiary. When the bank was purchased by another bank, the trust account nature of the account was somehow overlooked and the account was entered into the bank’s records as a joint account. Son withdrew all the funds from the account. Depositor sued the bank. The trial court held that Son’s withdrawal was unauthorized and that Depositor was entitled to the return of his money.

The appellate court affirmed. The court rejected the bank’s argument that it was entitled to rely on the account statements which showed the account as being joint. Account statements are not the operative legal document that created the account. Instead, the signature card contains the terms of the agreement. Because the bank could not produce the signature card, the court allowed Depositor to testify as to the terms of the contract. Depositor was not estopped for not complaining about the form of the account statements because Depositor was under no duty to point out the inconsistency.

Moral: Attorneys should inspect the actual signature cards of multiple-party accounts to make certain their clients fully understand their rights. Reliance should not be placed on the client’s recollection of the nature of the account or the description of the account on account statements.