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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Joint bank accounts and evidence

Since joint accounts and joint property are always such a hot topic on this blog, I thought I'd pass on to you an excellent article by Arieh A. Bloom, who works at Whaley Estate Litigation in Toronto.

The article is a summary of the case of Swiderski v. Walsh, The lawsuit in this case was between a brother and a sister after their mother died. The mother had a will which left her estate equally between her kids, but she also had a joint bank account with her daughter.

Does that sound familiar? It should, since hundreds, if not thousands, of you have set up your own affairs exactly the same way.

The fight was about whether or not the daughter was actually the owner of the joint bank account after the mother died. The daughter said she was entitled to keep the money. The son said that arrangement went against the mother's wish that the kids be treated equally. Since they could not come to an agreement, the matter had to be decided the hard way - that is, by a judge.

In this case, the court decided that the daughter could keep the account. It's important to understand that this is not a precedent that applies to everyone in this situation. It was very much decided on the specific facts of the case, as all of these situations are. Mr. Bloom's article gives a good summary of the factors the court will look at in this kind of dispute. To read his article, click here.

And please, pay close attention to the first sentence of the article: "In the estate litigation world joint bank account disputes have unfortunately become a routine occurrence." Since we know that these joint accounts are being fought out between siblings every day across Canada, maybe you should re-think your joint account arrangement.


  1. This exact situation occurred in my family. The difference was that my mom had left all four of her children as co executors. My mom was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and was given 6 months to live. After three years, she suggested that she and I go to her lawyer to change her 25 year old will. I was concerned about the wills variation and that my bothers woud see this as manipulative on my part. Because our joint account had existed for over 20 years, I was not concerned about the ownership of the account. How wrong I was, after being bullied for more than 4 years by my three brothers who had no relationship with my mother, I gave up. There was more manipulation of the remaining funds and close to $100,000. was redirected in the final document drawn up by one of the brothers. The cruel and difficult email fight demanded that I must copy all correspondence to all three brothers, while they were allowed to communicate with each other and then send cruel and accusatory emails from each of them in succession. The funny thing was, my brothers may have money from my mother, but I had a wonderful relationship with my mom and my children had a loving relationship with their grandma. I think we had the better deal.

  2. My elderly mother has added me to her bank account as an additional "authorized" signature including online access and bankcard.

    (She has also separately done so with her brokerage accounts which I manage for her)

    How does this compare with a joint account

  3. I have one brother that frankly is worse than your three! Greed has no boundaries. He left her to die in abject poverty sitting on an estate worth one million. I rescued her & expect to die fighting the courts to get new laws to protect seniors.

    1. Thank you for fighting the good fight. Too many people are complacent. I just read that 65% of the those that could or should have a Will do not. There should be a law that everyone should has to have a Will. If not then the government takes a fee of 10%.
      I have a 'somewhat' similar story that I will write up at a later date. My case is ongoing.


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