Cilvik's Estate, In re

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtBefore BELL; BELL; POMEROY
Citation439 Pa. 522,267 A.2d 836
Decision Date02 July 1970
PartiesIn re Estate of Apolinary S. CILVIK, Deceased. Appeal of Matilda VAN DYKE.

Page 836

267 A.2d 836
439 Pa. 522
In re Estate of Apolinary S. CILVIK, Deceased.
Appeal of Matilda VAN DYKE.
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
July 2, 1970.

[439 Pa. 523] Joseph Serling, Serling, Olexy, Cohen and Moses, Wilkes-Barre, for appellant.

Harry Hiscox, Rosenn, Jenkins & Greenwald, Wilkes-Barre, for appellee Regina Cilvik, Executrix.

Before BELL, C.J., and JONES, COHEN, EAGEN O'BRIEN, ROBERTS and POMEROY, JJ.

OPINION OF THE COURT

BELL, Chief Justice.

This appeal involves the ownership of a joint savings account opened under one of those perplexing and vexing bank signature cards. Testator left an estate of approximately

Page 837

$13,000, excluding this bank account of $6,750.93.

Apolinary Cilvik died testate on October 19, 1966. His will dated May 26, 1966 was probated October 27, 1966; on that same day letters testamentary were issued to his executrix, Regina Cilvik, one of the testator's daughters. 1

On October 23, 1966, four days after the testator's death, some members of his family met at Regina Cilvik's home with Alexander Laffey, a member of the [439 Pa. 524] bar and scrivener of testator's will. Laffey disclosed the contents of testator's will, which contained numerous devises and bequests to his children and grandchildren, and then discussed the administration of the estate. During the conference with Laffey, a passbook to a savings account at the Franklin Federal Savings and Loan Association of Wilkes-Barre was produced by Regina Cilvik, testator's executrix.

Laffey, after examining the passbook and discovering that It was in the joint names of the testator and Matilda Van Dyke, another of testator's daughters, questioned Mrs. Van Dyke concerning the ownership of the account. Laffey, on direct examination, testified: 'Mrs. Van Dyke was seated directly across from me at the table. My first question was to Mrs. Van Dyke, 'Did you ever see this bankbook before, Mrs. Van Dyke?' She said, 'No.' I said, 'Do you know that your name is on this bankbook together with your father?' She said, 'No.' I asked her, 'Do you concede that all of the funds that are on deposit in this bankbook are the property of your late father and will be administered in this estate?' She said, 'Yes'. I asked her then, 'Do you claim any ownership in the deposits represented in this bankbook?' She said, 'No.' I said, 'Are you willing to come to the bank at the earliest practicable moment and sign all necessary papers to withdraw the funds in this account so that they would be deposited in the estate of your late father and distributed in his estate?', and she said 'Yes'. I then asked her, 'Would it be convenient for you to come to my office tomorrow for the purpose of making the transfer of these funds into a new account for the benefit of the estate, to be distributed in accordance with the will of the decedent?' She said, 'Yes'. 'Will nine o'clock in the morning be convenient for you to come to my office?', and she said, 'Yes'. I said, 'Very well [439 Pa. 525] then, we will have an appointment for you to be in my office at nine o'clock the next morning to make the transfer'.'

Mrs. Van Dyke failed to keep her nine o'clock appointment with Laffey, but did appear at his office at approximately 11 o'clock that same morning. She then advised Laffey that she had consulted private counsel and that she was not going to transfer the money in the savings account to the estate, because her father had made a gift of the funds to her.

On October 28, 1966, Mrs. Van Dyke withdrew the money on deposit in this savings account. Since the bank regulations required that all withdrawals be accompanied by a passbook, and Laffey still had the passbook in his possession, Mrs. Van Dyke signed a sworn affidavit 'that the savings share account book * * * has been lost. Diligent search has been made for said document and it cannot be found.'

On February 21, 1968, testator's executrix, Regina Cilvik, petitioned the Luzerne County Orphans' Court for a rule to show cause why Matilda Van Dyke should not be compelled to turn over to the estate the sum of $6,750.93 plus interest, said sum being the amount on deposit in the savings account in question at testator's death. Mrs. Van Dyke filed an answer to the petition and a hearing was held on April 24, 1968. At the hearing, Matilda Van Dyke

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submitted into evidence a bank signature card 2 which was signed by herself and the testator for the savings account in question. This card provided in relevant part:

[439 Pa. 526] 'Jount Account (Either Signature)

Account No. 37801

(1) Cilvik (Last Name) Apolinary (First Name) S. (Middle Name)

(2) Van Dyke (Last Name) Matilda (First Name) Mrs. (Middle Name)

The undersigned hereby apply for a membership and for a savings account in the

Franklin Federal Savings and Loan Association of Wilkes-Barre and for the Issuance of evidence of membership in the approved form 3 in the joint names of the undersigned as joint tenants with the right of survivorship and not as tenants in common. Specimens of the signatures of the undersigned are shown below and the Association is hereby authorized to act without further inquiry in accordance with writings bearing any such signature and the terms of the reverse side of this card, which are incorporated herein, it being understood and agreed that Any one of the undersigned 4 who shall first act shall have power to act in all matters related to the membership and any savings account in said Association held by the undersigned, whether the other person or persons named in the account be living or not. The withdrawal may be made or balance on deposit in any such account may be paid or delivered in whole or in part to Any one of the undersigned 4 who shall first act, and such payment or delivery or a receipt or acquittance signed by Any one of the undersigned 4 shall be a valid and sufficient release and discharge of said Association.'

The lower Court held that the money on deposit in the bank savings account at testator's death was part of his estate. Accordingly, the Court ordered Mrs. Van Dyke to deliver this money to the executrix of the estate[439 Pa. 527] of Apolinary Cilvik. The Court dismissed Mrs. Van Dyke's exceptions, and affirmed its original Decree.

Appellant contends in this appeal that the Orphans' Court erred because (1) it did not hold that the parol evidence rule was applicable to the present factual situation and barred the present claim, and (2) in the...

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17 practice notes
  • Perdue v. Crocker National Bank, S.F. 24591
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 18 Julio 1985
    ...National Bank (1954) 122 Cal.App.2d 884, 889-890, 266 P.2d 143) and decisions of other states (see, e.g., In re Estate of Cilvik (1970) 439 Pa. 522, 267 A.2d 836, 838, fn. 2) also view the signature card as a Plaintiff does not seriously dispute this proposition. His complaint alleges that ......
  • RIGGS NAT. BANK v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, No. 88-1016
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • 26 Octubre 1990
    ...503, 509, 216 Cal.Rptr. 345, 351 (1985), appeal dismissed 475 U.S. 1001, 106 S.Ct. 1170, 89 L.Ed.2d 290 (1986); In re Estate of Cilvik, 439 Pa. 522, 525, 267 A.2d 836, 838 & n. 2 (1970). Such a contract may be one of adhesion, and is therefore subject to judicial scrutiny for unconscionabil......
  • Lux' Estate, In re
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • 14 Julio 1978
    ...intend to give appellant a joint tenancy with right of survivorship. 6 Beniger Estate, 449 Pa. 373, 296 A.2d 773 (1972); Cilvik Estate, 439 Pa. 522, 267 A.2d 836 (1970). The court concluded that the evidence established the decedent did not intend to make a gift to appellant but merely to c......
  • Sipe's Estate, In re
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • 31 Octubre 1980
    ...considered in determining whether a gift was made or whether the joint account was established for some other purpose. Estate of Cilvik, 439 Pa. 522, 267 A.2d 836 (1970); Estate of Sivak, 409 Pa. 261, 185 A.2d 778 (1962); Snoder v. Lenhart, 363 Pa. 371, 69 A.2d 382 (1949); Reap v. Wyoming T......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • Perdue v. Crocker National Bank, S.F. 24591
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 18 Julio 1985
    ...National Bank (1954) 122 Cal.App.2d 884, 889-890, 266 P.2d 143) and decisions of other states (see, e.g., In re Estate of Cilvik (1970) 439 Pa. 522, 267 A.2d 836, 838, fn. 2) also view the signature card as a Plaintiff does not seriously dispute this proposition. His complaint alleges that ......
  • RIGGS NAT. BANK v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, No. 88-1016
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • 26 Octubre 1990
    ...503, 509, 216 Cal.Rptr. 345, 351 (1985), appeal dismissed 475 U.S. 1001, 106 S.Ct. 1170, 89 L.Ed.2d 290 (1986); In re Estate of Cilvik, 439 Pa. 522, 525, 267 A.2d 836, 838 & n. 2 (1970). Such a contract may be one of adhesion, and is therefore subject to judicial scrutiny for unconscionabil......
  • Lux' Estate, In re
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • 14 Julio 1978
    ...intend to give appellant a joint tenancy with right of survivorship. 6 Beniger Estate, 449 Pa. 373, 296 A.2d 773 (1972); Cilvik Estate, 439 Pa. 522, 267 A.2d 836 (1970). The court concluded that the evidence established the decedent did not intend to make a gift to appellant but merely to c......
  • Sipe's Estate, In re
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • 31 Octubre 1980
    ...considered in determining whether a gift was made or whether the joint account was established for some other purpose. Estate of Cilvik, 439 Pa. 522, 267 A.2d 836 (1970); Estate of Sivak, 409 Pa. 261, 185 A.2d 778 (1962); Snoder v. Lenhart, 363 Pa. 371, 69 A.2d 382 (1949); Reap v. Wyoming T......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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