Brown v. Brown

Brown v. Brown, 39 Fla. L. Weekly D.1949a

In this case, the circuit court relied on the report of a magistrate regarding the ownership of certain joint and pay-on-death ("POD") accounts of a decedent.  The circuit court held that both the joint and POD accounts were includable in the decedent's estate, to be distributed pursuant to the terms of the will. 

The Appellate Court affirmed the order as to the joint accounts, but reversed as to the POD accounts, pointing to the differing statutes governing the ownership of these types of accounts in making its distinction.  The Court held that the magistrate was correct to rely on F.S. 655.79 as to the joint accounts, and upheld the magistrate's holding that F.S. 655.79 creates a presumption that title to a joint deposit account vests in the surviving owners, but that presumption may be overcome with clear and convincing proof of contrary intent.  Since the magistrate found that there was clear and convincing evidence that the decedent intended these accounts to pass pursuant to her will, the joint ownership was overcome and the accounts became assets of the estate.

On the other hand, the Court held that the magistrate was incorrect to rely on F.S. 655.79 when analyzing the POD accounts.  POD accounts are governed by F.S. 655.82.  Unlike the joint accounts, there is no presumption regarding the ownership of these accounts and thus the Court remanded for entry of a revised order on the POD accounts under the correct statute.

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