Thank you for the excellent replies here.
Just to address some of the comments :
Maths points :
The 'O' and 'N' situation appears to slightly clearer in that the parties disclosed [and agreed in writing by executing a trust] their intentions prior to the death of 'O'. Their intention is that 'N' will never have a beneficial interest in the monies [was there a typo in your original post ?]. On the death of O, ownership of the account transfers to N [in reality the bank automatically closes the joint account and moves the funds to a new sole account for N]. If N decides not to return the funds to O's estate, then I would agree that the written declaration [the trust] will carry significant weight should the matter come before a judge.
Like most family situations, the sisters didn't put their intentions in writing. The deceased decided to open the joint bank account for convenience reasons. She ran a sole trader business and believed that she could protect this money by having it in an account that was not in her name alone. She had similar accounts with other family members. All of these accounts were funded by the deceased and all transactions [that we can see] were made by the deceased. The sister [and other family members on the other accounts] was there in name only and had no involvement in the account... until now ! The other family members have returned the funds in the other accounts to the estate. There was no power of attorney in place. The deceased was very active [with full faculties] up to her death.
So I guess in terms of a claim, it will rest on whether the deceased's behaviour/activity on this account [and the other accounts], including funding them, constitutes enough to trump the legal weight of 'joint tenancy' on the bank's terms and agreement. If you were a county court or high court judge, what direction would you find in favour of ?
JPEP's points :
It's very interesting that the bank actually did something like this. Was it definitely a joint account ? The bank will not even discuss the details of the joint account with the estate representative - and that would appear to be normal practice. They are happy to discuss any matters, release funds etc... relating to the deceased's sole accounts. Which leads me to another issue regarding the preparation of the court claim. Although the estate has some details of the bank activity [from paper statements etc...] it doesn't have everything. If the bank are unwilling to provide any information on the account to the estate representative, how can the estate or it's legal representatives get sight of that evidence ? Do they apply for a court order for the bank to release it ? Is there a process for this ?
In terms of the PET... what you've said here makes absolute sense. Making a gift is an intentional rather than an accidental action and the GROB is a great example of that.
Again, huge thanks for this guys [or girls