Other Matters

Multiple-Party Accounts

Ownership of Non-Contributing Joint Party

Edwards v. Pena, 38 S.W.3d 191 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi 2001, no pet.).


Depositor added Secretary’s name to a certificate of deposit consisting entirely of Depositor’s funds. Years later, Depositor’s Guardian redeemed the CD and purchased another CD in Depositor’s name alone. After Depositor died, Secretary sued Guardian alleging that he wrongfully deprived her of the CD. The trial court determined that Depositor had made a gift of the CD to Secretary and that Guardian had converted the CD.

The appellate court reversed. The court held that there was no evidence that Depositor made a completed gift of the CD to Secretary. Depositor retained an interest in the CD and did not divest herself of any ownership rights in the CD. Surprisingly, the court did not cite Probate Code § 438(a) which provides that ownership of a joint account is in proportion to net contributions unless there is clear and convincing evidence of a different intent. In this case, Secretary contributed nothing and there was no evidence of a gift beyond Secretary’s name on the CD.

Moral: Merely adding a name to a joint account does not, without clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, imbue the new joint holder with ownership rights over any of the funds in the account.