This appeal, like its companion case, Pecore v. Pecore, 2007 SCC 17 (released concurrently), involves questions about joint bank and investment accounts. As discussed more fully in Pecore, joint accounts are used by many Canadians for a variety of purposes, including estate planning and financial management.
As discussed in Pecore,… the fact that a transferor maintains sole control over or use of funds in a joint account will not be determinative of whether a transferee is entitled to the balance in the account upon the transferor’s death. Whether or not a transferor continues to pay tax on the income of the joint accounts is also not determinative.
However, I am unable to agree with the trial judge that there was no evidence to suggest that Patricia’s father intended for her alone to have the assets in the joint accounts. On the relevant financial institution documents, the father elected to have the joint accounts carry a right of survivorship. Patricia testified that both she and her father acknowledged that they understood at the time that this meant that on the death of one of the joint account holders, the other would become the sole owner.
As discussed in Pecore … banking documents may, in modern times, be detailed enough that they provide strong evidence of the intention of the transferor regarding how the balance in the accounts should be treated on his or her death. The clearer the evidence in the documents, the more weight that evidence should carry.