Clarence C. Mendelsohn, Joseph E. DeSantis, Reading, for appellant.
Aaron A. Brumbach, George B. Balmer, Snyder, Balmer & Kershner, Reading, for appellee.
Before Rhodes, P. J., and Hirt, Gunther, Wright, Woodside and Ervin, JJ.
[ 176 Pa. Super. Page 499]
In January of 1948 Peter H. Wann and Ella May Wann, his wife, left their residence in East Cocalico Township, Lancaster County, and moved into the home of their daughter, Florence D. Boyer, who lived in Reading, Pennsylvania. In July of 1948 they sold their residence and personal effects at a public sale. Peter H. Wann died on November 5, 1948 at the age of 74 years. He left no estate but there remained a joint bank account in the names of his wife and himself as tenants by the entireties, in the amount of $8,334.25, in The Denver National Bank of Denver, Pennsylvania. On November 6, 1948, after the death of her husband, Ella May Wann, accompanied by her daughter, Florence
[ 176 Pa. Super. Page 500]
K. Boyer, went to The Denver National Bank of Denver, Pennsylvania, withdrew the sum of $8,334.25 from the joint account in the names of Peter H. Wann and Ella May Wann and deposited the same amount in an account in the names of Ella May Wann and Florence K. Boyer, payable to either or the survivor. At the same time, in the presence of certain bank officials, the mother and daughter executed an agreement providing, inter alia, that the funds in said account belonged to both parties jointly and that in the event of the death of either, the funds in the account should pass to the survivor. Ella May Wann died on July 20, 1950, at the age of 77 years, unmarried and intestate. Her heirs at law were Hazel M. Hassler, Florence K. Boyer, Ruth Kercher and Veoma L. Snyder, daughters of the decedent, and four grandchildren, children of William K. Wann, a deceased son. At the death of the decedent there remained a credit balance of $2,834.16 in the joint account. On March 19, 1951 letters of administration were granted to Hazel M. Hassler, one of the decedent's daughters, and on May 12, 1951 the administratrix filed a petition for a citation to show cause why certain money and property in the possession of Florence K. Boyer should not be paid over to the administratrix. An answer to the petition was filed claiming, inter alia, that the balance in the joint account amounting to $2,834.16 became the property of the respondent, Florence K. Boyer, upon the death of Ella May Wann. Hearings on the petition and answer were closed on June 28, 1951. On December 19, 1951 the administratrix joined with two other daughters of the decedent in filing a petition requesting a further hearing in order that testimony of Ruth Kercher and Veoma L. Snyder, who had not theretofore testified, be received in evidence. An answer to this petition was filed and after argument thereon the court below, by
[ 176 Pa. Super. Page 501]
opinion and decree dated July 18, 1952, dismissed the petition for further hearing and dismissed the petition seeking recovery of certain assets alleged to be the decedent's in the custody of Florence K. Boyer. Exceptions to the opinion and decree of the court below were dismissed and the decree of July 18, 1952, with certain modifications, was confirmed absolutely by the court below on December 6, 1952. This appeal by the administratrix followed.
As to the assets alleged to be the property of the decedent in the custody of the appellee, we are concerned in this appeal only with the joint bank account with the right of survivorship created by the decedent and her daughter, the appellee, on November 6, 1948.
The appellant attacks the validity of the joint bank account with the right of survivorship, contending that the decedent did not have sufficient mental capacity on November 6, 1948 to create the joint account and that a confidential relationship existed between the decedent and the appellee.
The specific allegations of the appellant relating to the mental capacity of the decedent are that at the time of her death in July, 1950 and for a long time prior thereto; at the time of her husband's death in November, 1948; and at the time the joint bank account was opened in the name of ...