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BALFOUR v. SEITZ. (04/21/58)

April 21, 1958

BALFOUR, APPELLANT,
v.
SEITZ.



Appeal, No. 16, March T., 1958, from decree of Orphans' Court of Butler County, Dec. T., 1955, No. 225, in re estate of John L. Balfour by Edward D. Balfour. Decree reversed.

COUNSEL

James E. Marshall, with him Marshall, Marshall & McNamee, for appellant.

Leonard I. Feldstein, with him Michael M. Mamula, for appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno, Arnold, Jones and Cohen, JJ.

Author: Jones

[ 392 Pa. Page 301]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BENJAMIN R. JONES

This appeal presents an oft litigated issue: Whether under the circumstances a gift inter vivos of a bank account has been established.

John L. Balfour, a resident of Butler County, died intestate, August 12, 1955.

[ 392 Pa. Page 302]

Sometime prior to 1930 decedent opened in his own name a savings account in the Mars National Bank of Mars, Pa. Approximately twenty to twenty-two years later - between October 1950 and September 26, 1952 - the name of Letitia Seitz, one of decedent's nine children, was added to this account which was then styled "John L. Balfour or*fn1 Letitia Seitz."*fn2 Neither a signature card, withdrawal agreement, nor a survival agreement was ever signed by the parties. The bank did not require any written agreement in connection with its savings accounts.

In 1953 six withdrawals, totaling $325, were made from this account - all by decedent alone. Only one deposit - $500 in 1954 - was made in the account; the identity of the person making this deposit was not established. For approximately ten years prior to his death Balfour had lived with one of his sons and there is no evidence that he had ever lived with Letitia Seitz or that she had performed any unusual or particular services for him. Subsequent to decedent's death the passbook for the account was found among his papers, the account then having a balance of $1918.46.

Balfour's administrator, claiming the money belonged to the estate, petitioned the Orphans' Court of Butler County for a declaratory judgment. Letitia Seitz, although she did not so aver in her answer to the petition for declaratory judgment, claimed the account as gift inter vivos to her on the basis on an alleged, but unproved, oral agreement between herself and decedent.

After a hearing, the Court below concluded as a matter of law that decedent had created a joint tenancy with the right of ...


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