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 Franklin.
    • 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 her money.
  • 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 of intent.