Tennessee Supreme Court Clarifies Law Regarding Ownership Of Funds Withdrawn From A Joint Bank Account

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Tennessee Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that, when one spouse unilaterally withdraws money from a married couple’s joint bank account and places the funds in a certificate of deposit, the funds are no longer joint property and belong to the spouse to whom the certificate of deposit was issued.

In April 2012, Calvert Hugh Fletcher and his wife, Nelda Karene Fletcher, deposited funds in a joint checking account designated with a right of survivorship. The joint account card required only one signature to withdraw funds. Later, Mr. Fletcher withdrew $100,000 from the account and deposited the money in a certificate of deposit held only in his name. After he died, a dispute arose between Mrs. Fletcher and Mr. Fletcher’s children from a previous marriage regarding ownership of the certificate of deposit. The Putnam County Probate Court ruled that the funds belonged to the husband’s estate because the funds ceased to be joint property when withdrawn from the joint account. Mrs. Fletcher appealed, and the Court of Appeals ruled the funds belonged to her because the money could be directly traced to the joint account.

After reviewing cases from Tennessee and other states, the Supreme Court held that, once a husband or wife withdraws funds from a joint bank account held as tenants by the entirety, the funds cease to be held by the entirety. The Supreme Court found this approach provides the clarity and finality needed in the current banking environment, noting it would be difficult for a third party receiving funds to know the source of the money and if someone else has an ownership interest in the funds.

In an opinion authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee, the Court held that the certificate of deposit issued to Mr. Fletcher from money withdrawn from the couple’s joint bank account was owned by Mr. Fletcher at his death and, therefore, was not owned by Mrs. Fletcher, but became a part of Mr. Fletcher’s estate and passed under the terms of his will.

To read the unanimous opinion in In Re Estate of Calvert Hugh Fletcher, authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee, visit the Opinions section of TNCourts.gov.



New Hamilton County Businesses

Here are the new businesses from the County Clerk's office: A2Z CANVASS NITA  SLATTON 2 RETAIL SALES AND SERVICE OF CANOPY'S 2001 WHEELER AVE CHATTANOOGA TN 37406 BAREFOOT GYPSY BARBARA  RODRIGUEZ 3 CRAFTS, GIFT SALES ONLINE 3600 LEE PIKE SODDY DAISY TN 37377 BAXTER HOME INSPECTIONS CHARLES H BAXTER, III 3 HOME INSPECTIONS ... (click for more)

Templeton And Cothern Become Members At Patrick, Beard, Schulman & Jacoway, P.C.

Patrick, Beard, Schulman & Jacoway, P.C. announces that John H. Templeton and Jeremy M. Cothern have been elected to firm membership. The 15-attorney, full service law firm offers business formation, governance, and transactions, estate planning, probate, and civil and criminal litigation for businesses, utilities, government entities, and individuals.  Mr. Templeton ... (click for more)

Bradley County Deputy Shoots And Kills Stabbing Suspect At Charleston

A Bradley County deputy shot and killed a man who was a suspect in a stabbing early Sunday morning. The Sheriff's Office said, "At approximately 11:54 p.m. on Saturday, a call was received at the Cleveland/Bradley County 911 Center to report a stabbing at a residence on Leyland Drive in Charleston. "The caller indicated a male had been stabbed and another male had fled from ... (click for more)

Sheriff's Office Investigating Shooting On Ridgestone Drive At Ooltewah

Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the  7200 block of Ridgestone Drive in Ooltewah early Saturday on a call  of a person who had been shot.   The incident happened around 3 a.m.   T he injured person was transported to an area hospital with a non-life threatening injury.  The facts surrounding the shooting ... (click for more)

The Growing Monopoly

Over the last decade, five tech giants have risen to the top, and created, discovered and invented services and products that have made these companies worth billions today. Those five, of course, are Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. Each of these companies are responsible for several products and services that we use in our everyday lives. They have devoured the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Those We All Ignore

I was in the midst of my “morning readings” the other day when a number leapt off my computer screen. Hark, heralded angels, did you know in the state of Iowa there are two (2) inpatient psychiatry beds for every 100,000 people? I’m not the best with percentages but there are some people in Iowa who aren’t getting the help they need. There are roughly 3.2 million people living in ... (click for more)