In 2005 the Texarkana Court of Appeals was asked that question. An elderly couple who became concerned about their future health and living care needs made two of their children signatories on their bank account. Over time, the mother died and a daughter was able to get sole control of the funds. She refused to give her father access to the account. The father filed suit. The daughter responded to the suit by saying that after the mother had died her brother started making large withdrawals from the fund. To protect the money, the daughter took the money out of the account and opened a new account where she was the only signatory. Her position was that the parents had orally created a trust when they put her on the account originally and she was just following the dictates of the trust. She also claimed that once her mother had died, the trust became irrevocable and her father could not revoke it. The trial court agreed with the daughter and held that the parents had created an oral trust when they put the daughter on the account and she had every right to protect their interest by taking the money out of that account and putting it in another one where she was the sole signatory on the account. The father appealed.
The appeals court reversed. They explained that a trust must be in writing. There are some exceptions to that rule but none of those exceptions were present in this case. Since there was no trust, the funds belonged to the father and not to the alleged trust. The court also held that if any trust was created, it was a revocable trust and the father could and did revoked the alleged trust by filing suit. The trial court was reversed and the appeals court sent the case back to the trial court to determine how much attorney’s fees should be awarded against the daughter. 167 sw3 924.
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