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ELLIOTT ESTATE (06/28/54)

June 28, 1954

ELLIOTT ESTATE


Appeals, Nos. 2 and 3, May T., 1954, from decree of Orphans' Court of York County, in Estate of Ferd S. Elliott, deceased. Decree affirmed. Audit of account of executor. Before GROSS, P.J. Decree entered dismissing petitions for delivery of certificates of deposit to claimants; adjudication filed disallowing claims to deposit certificates; exceptions to adjudication dismissed and final decree entered. Claimants appealed.

COUNSEL

Horace G. Ports, with him Henry B. Street and Fisher, Ports & May, for appellants.

Spencer R. Liverant, with him Markowitz, Liverant, Boyle, Rahauser & Kagen and Donald B. Waltman, for appellees.

Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Bell, Chidsey and Musmanno, JJ.

Author: Stearne

[ 378 Pa. Page 496]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ALLEN M. STEARNE

These appeals are from a decree of the Orphans' Court of York County. They involve the ownership of eleven joint and several certificates of deposit found in a decedent's safe deposit box after his decease. Six of the certificates are in the names of decedent and

[ 378 Pa. Page 497]

    his brother Paul; four are in the names of decedent and his sister Grace and one in the names of decedent and his brother Robert. In a carefully considered opinion by the learned auditing judge, it was ruled that all the certificates were owned by the decedent since no valid inter vivos gift was proved and the intended testamentary disposition was ineffective.

We need not recite in detail all of the facts found by the court below. It will suffice to state that named banks issued certificates of deposit certifying the decedent or a named brother or sister "has/have deposited in said bank the sum of ... dollars, payable to his/her/their order, on the day of ." On the face of the six certificates in the joint names of Paul and the decedent is stamped "As joint tenants with right of survivorship and not as tenants in common." On the face of four certificates on which the name of the sister Grace appears and also on the one relating to the brother Robert is stamped the words "Joint owners, payable to either, and after death of one to the survivor."

It is asserted in the opinion that no appellate court decision or discussion has been found relating to joint certificates of deposit in the circumstances here presented. Our own research has disclosed none. The basic principles which govern other types of bank deposits are clearly applicable to certificates of deposit.

The language in these joint certificates does not conclusively establish that the survivor is the owner of the fund. As in the case of a savings deposit book, inquiry must be made concerning the facts and all of the surrounding circumstances when the certificate of deposit was obtained.

The cash certified in all the certificates of deposit was originally that of decedent. No portion belonged to any of the brothers or sister. The transaction, therefore,

[ 378 Pa. Page 498]

    does not present a situation where a fund was held by decedent merely as custodian: Carr ...


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