Q&As

Is a debt owing to a joint account owned by a wife and deceased husband a joint asset which passes by survivorship to the surviving spouse?

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Published on LexisPSL on 04/01/2018

The following Wills & Probate Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Is a debt owing to a joint account owned by a wife and deceased husband a joint asset which passes by survivorship to the surviving spouse?

Is a debt owing to a joint account owned by a wife and deceased husband a joint asset which passes by survivorship to the surviving spouse?

We have assumed that the husband and wife owned the bank account as joint tenants.

Debts are choses in action (see Brice v Bannister). Among other debts such as mortgage debts, money in building society or savings banks accounts are also choses in action (See R v Marland and Jones (1985) 82 Cr App Rep 134, CA) (not reported by LexisNexis®). For further information, see: Debts: Halsbury's Laws of England [5].

Joint ownership of property occurs where two or more persons concurrently owns an asset. See: Co-Ownership: Halsbury's Laws of England [828] for more information.

The right of survivorship attaches to a joint tenancy of personalty, including choses (or things) in possession and in action, as well as to realty until severance (see: Joint ownership in personalty: Halsbury's Laws of England [829]). This means that on the death of one joint tenant, their interest passes to the other joint tenants who becomes the sole owner of the property unless there is contrary intention indicating severance.

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