Ownership of money in a joint account
We deal with the ownership of the money in a joint account of an indistinct nature in the name of two people who function as a de facto couple and are not married.
The question we are going to try to answer is:
Is this money deposited in the Bank co-owned by both of them as co-owners, or is it only the one who deposited it?
Supreme Court Doctrine Regarding Ownership of Money in a Joint Account:
We extract _ the next:
” the bank current account expresses an availability of funds in favor of the holders of the same against the Bank that retains them, not being able to accept the criterion that the money deposited in such indistinct accounts becomes the property of the appellant, for the sole fact of appearing as an indistinct owner, because in the deposit contract, the legal relationship is established between the depositor, owner of the thing deposited, and the depositary who receives it, not modifying the legal situation of the former, in terms of what is deposited, for the designation of the person or persons who can withdraw it.
Such indistinct deposits do not imply a community of ownership over the deposited objects, and they must comply with whatever the courts have on their property.
For this reason, the mere fact of opening a current bank account, indistinctly, in the name of two or more persons, the only thing that initially means is that any of the holders will have, before the Depositary Bank, dispositive faculties of the balance. The account yields, but it does not determine by itself the existence of a condominium that will be determined solely by internal relations and, more specifically, by the original owner of the funds or numeraire from which said account is nourished.
Doctrinal Implications or Problems About Ownership of Money in a Joint Account
1º.By itself, the existence of a joint account of an indistinct nature in favor of two people does not mean in advance that said account holders are joint holders of said money.
2nd. – The existence of a joint bank account of an indistinct nature. It only means that any of the co-holders may dispose of the balance that the account shows under the deposit agreement signed with the Bank. Still, it does not attribute any property rights to the available funds or securities.
3rd. – The co-ownership of the bank account, due to the appearance of appearing indistinctly in the name of two people, only gives a basis to generate a simple presumption of co-ownership, but determining whether that presumption corresponds to reality is a matter unrelated to the relationship of holders with the Bank.
4º.- Any of the two co-owners of the account who intends to distort or confirm said the presumption of co-ownership will have to resort to the relationships that mediate between the owners and even with third parties.
- 5º.- The evidence resulting from these relations between them or with third parties, ordinarily documentary evidence of money income, etc., that work in the Bank itself will be the ones to decide, in principle, to whom the assets deposited in the joint account belong.
Conclusion on who is the joint account holder
Regarding the ownership of the money in a joint account, we must conclude that although there is a simple presumption that the funds deposited in a joint statement in the name of two people belong to both others’ accounts, said presumption can be destroyed if any of the co-owners proves irrefutably that the funds belong exclusively to him because they were deposited by him alone without the other having put any money in said account.
Death of the co-holder of an indistinct bank account for tax purposes
It has already been said that the mere fact of opening a current account, indistinctly, in the name of two or more persons, is the only thing that involves “prima facie” about the relations derived from the irregular deposit in which every account banking current is supported, is that any of the holders will have, before the Depository Bank, dispositive faculties of the balance that the account shows (ownership of disposition). Therefore, they can dispose of part or all of it and even resolve or extinguish it via article 279 of the Commercial Code. Regardless of the proprietary ownership, all of this must be proven under the law and apart from the proof of co-ownership of the account.
Now, this total disposition ownership over the account balance will only remain in force as long as the co-holders of it live. Still, it cannot extend beyond the death of any of them because, at that moment, the dispositions come into play. Civil laws regulate the succession of the deceased. As the Supreme Court has said, “… upon the death of a co-owner, … and even without the need to partition the inheritance, the sum whose domain belonged to the deceased owner should have passed to his heirs.”
From the moment of the death of one of the co-owners, the other – or others – ceases to have the power to dispose of the part of the balance of the indistinct account whose Sunday ownership corresponded to the deceased, which must be integrated into the relict flow.
Under all that has been said, it is not possible to establish a priori the percentage of the money deposited in solidarity or indistinct bank accounts that corresponds to each of the co-owners of said accounts since the Sunday ownership of the funds will be determined by the original request of the funds or cash from which each account has been nurtured, an issue that must be reliably proven by whoever wants to assert that right against third parties. Therefore, if the holder who is alive since the other has died maintains that all the money deposited was his, even though the account was indistinctly in the name of both, he must prove that point or what part of the money corresponds to each holder.