In re Estate of Wilson, 213 S.W.3d 491 (Tex. App.—Tyler 2006, pet. denied).


Multiple-Party Accounts

Language Sufficient to Create Survivorship Rights


Both the trial and appellate courts agreed that signature cards marked with an “X” next to the designation “Joint with Right of Survivorship” and which referred to a deposit agreement stating the “when a co-owner dies, the balance in the account belongs to the surviving co-owner(s)” was sufficient to imbue the accounts with the survivorship feature. Although the signature cards did not use the exact “safe harbor” wording of Probate Code § 439(a), the appellate court held that the language was in substantial compliance.

Moral: To avoid problems, financial institutions should follow the statutory safe harbor language when creating multiple-party accounts and give serious consideration to using the statutory form in Probate Code 439A.


Estate Administration



Several bank accounts were listed in the decedent’s inventory which the trial court approved. Later, a claim was made that the accounts had survivorship rights and were not part of the decedent’s estate. The appellate court rejected the argument that the survivor was precluded from attempting to establish her ownership. The court explained that “an order of a probate court approving an inventory and appraisement is not an adjudication of title to property.”

Moral: The listing of property in an estate inventory, even if court approved, will not prevent others from asserting a superior right of ownership.