Coffey v. Bank of America, 2013 WL 257363 (Tex. App.—Beaumont 2013, no pet.).


Estate Administration

Bank Account Recovery


After Depositor died, Executrix claimed that Bank paid checks that were not properly payable and thus the estate should recover the amounts of those checks.  Both the trial and appellate courts rejected Executrix’s claims on a variety of grounds based on the Uniform Commercial Code.


The account at issue was a pay on death account.  Bank proved that it provided monthly statements to Depositor and, after Depositor’s death, to the pay on death payee.  Because they did not report the alleged unauthorized transactions within sixty days (the statutory one year period having been shortened by contract), it was too late to recover from Bank.  Besides, the account was a non-probate asset and not in Depositor’s estate.


The court then pointed to Jefferson State Bank v. Lenk, 323 S.W.3d 146 (Tex. 2010), as support for Executrix’s claim that the time period did not actually begin to run until Executrix was appointed.  The court held that even if this were the case, Executrix did not report the alleged not properly payable checks to Bank until after the time period had run.  The court explained that merely filing a lawsuit within that time was insufficient as the pleading did not specifically identify the checks at issue.


Moral:  An executor who wishes to claim that a decedent’s checks were not properly payable must act promptly to provide detailed notice to the financial institution.  In addition, the executor must remember that survivorship, trust, and P.O.D. accounts are non-probate assets and that the new owner of the account should bring any claims associated with the account.