In re Estate of Thompson

Supreme Court of Ohio, 1981.

66 Ohio St.2d 433, 423 N.E.2d 90.

Johnson, pp. 194-199


Facts: Richard opened two joint and survivorship accounts with his wife, Carma Lee, as the other party.  Near the end of his wife’s life, they had marital problems and Thompson closed the accounts and transferred the money into accounts solely in his name.  Soon thereafter, his wife filed for divorce, but she died before the divorce went through.  Carma Lee’s daughter was appointed as executor of her will, and she claimed that Carma Lee’s estate was entitled to half the amounts that were in the joint and survivorship accounts.  Richard took exception.  The referee found that Richard improperly withdrew the money from the accounts in breach of a fiduciary duty to his wife.  The Court of Appeals reversed, saying that all the money properly went to Richard upon Carma Lee’s death because he was simply trying to preserve the funds for both parties’ mutual benefit.  The case is appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.




Rule: NEW RULE!  The interests in a joint account are proportional to the net contributions of each owner.




Conclusion: Carma Lee’s estate gets whatever proportion of the money she actually contributed.


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