Bank Accounts in Probate Court

By HSK, May 29, 2014

The Fifth District Court of Appeals for Richland County decided a probate matter concerning joint and survivor bank accounts, transfer on death bank accounts, and general durable and health care power of attorney documents.  The Court of Appeals applied a testamentary capacity analysis to execution of bank account documents and power of attorney documents.  The Court of Appeals relied upon a 1928 decision of the Ohio Supreme Court to hold that a beneficiary designation on a bank account should receive the same standard of review as that of an execution of a Will.  No other legal authority was supplied by the Court, but a reading of the Supreme Court case it cited shows that no reference exists in it to a beneficiary designation of bank account.  On such an important probate matter, the Fifth District Court of Appeals should have provided supplemental citation to hold that testamentary capacity is all that is needed for proper execution of a bank beneficiary designation form or a durable power of attorney.  Others would argue that contractual capacity is what is needed, which is a higher level of mental capacity than testamentary capacity.

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