Schacht v. Kunimune

A son opened joint checking and savings accounts with his father. A few years later the son was injured in a car accident, settled his claim against the other driver, and deposited the settlement check into his joint savings account. A creditor of the father later levied the joint accounts and obtained approximately $90,000 - essentially all of it traceable to the son’s settlement money - in partial satisfaction of the creditor’s judgment against the father. The son intervened in the collection action, arguing that the money should be returned to him because he was the equitable owner of the funds in the accounts. After the superior court’s evidentiary hearing on the son’s claims, but before the court issued its ruling, the son sent a letter asking the court to consider AS 13.33.201-.227 as supplemental legal authority. Without mentioning the statutes the son cited, the superior court subsequently held by a preponderance of the evidence that the creditor could levy the joint accounts in their entireties because the financial institution’s account agreement the father and son signed provided that they each owned the accounts “jointly and equally . . . regardless of their net contributions.” The Alaska Supreme Court vacated the superior court’s decision and remanded for further proceedings because: (1) the son did not waive his argument regarding AS 13.33.211’s applicability; (2) the statute applied to determine the ownership interests of joint account owners in a dispute involving a third-party creditor; and (3) the correct standard of proof was not applied and the requisite statutory findings were not made. View "Schacht v. Kunimune" on Justia Law