Fort Lauderdale, FL asked in Contracts, Family Law, Banking and International Law for Florida

Q: Bank account in Canada not honoring my contract.

It is joint with rights of survivorship, we specifically wanted to have access to it regardless if one of us died. Now the bank has frozen the accounts after I innocently mentioned to them of her passing since i thought i was in my right. They are saying that there is no rights of survivorship in quebec law and want me to deal with their lawyer and have a will with court documents. They completely disregard my contract, why would they give me a contract and then turn around and not honor it. This is not what I agreed on when I opened the account. I clearnly have the contract regardless of their laws, why is the bank employee not being held accountable for giving this contract. In the u.s. a contract is a contract and holds fast to it. We were both u.s. citizens residing in the u.s.

3 Lawyer Answers
David Luther Woodward
David Luther Woodward
Answered
  • Business Law Lawyer
  • Pensacola, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Read the contract carefully.

The municipal law of Quebec is based on the Code Napoleon (like Louisiana) and cannot easily be compared to the common law of Florida.

I would suggest you hire a lawyer in Montreal (sometimes a notaire can handle this type of problem) and see if it cannot be resolved easily

A different system of law in a different language is not a DIY project--and neither is one here at home

Bruce Alexander Minnick agrees with this answer

Jane Kim
Jane Kim
Answered
  • Business Law Lawyer
  • Naples, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Why are you posting it under FL if the issue is in Canada? FL lawyers are not licensed in Canada.

Bruce Alexander Minnick agrees with this answer

Bruce Alexander Minnick
Bruce Alexander Minnick
Answered
  • Business Law Lawyer
  • Tallahassee, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: You may not agree with this advice but here it is anyway:

1. Joint bank accounts are only joint accounts if the joint owners are alive.

2. Joint accounts are no longer joint accounts the instant one of the joint owners dies.

3. Unless there is a written contract saying otherwise, joint accounts become the property of the survivor.

4. However, since all banks are merely fiduciaries (safe-keepers) of their customers' funds, all smart banks freeze joint accounts as soon as they are notified of the death of one (or both) of the joint owners.

5. Believe it or not, this iron-clad bank policy is for the safety of both the survivor and the decedent's estate.

6. Explanation: The Canadian bank has no idea who you are, and will NOT release the jointly owned funds without

(a) PROOF that one joint owner has died and (2) proof that the surviving joint owner is entitled to all the money.

7. If you will turn these facts around and pretend that

(a) YOU are the decedent and

(b) YOU had a valid Last Will

(c) that gave some or all of your "share" of the joint funds

(d) to someone OTHER than the joint owner

(e) you should be able to see why the bank is holding the funds and

(f) will not release them to anyone without some legal proof that

(g) you are the joint owner you claim to be, and

(h) you are either the beneficiary under the decedent's Last Will or

(I) the decedent had no beneficiaries.

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