Right of Survivorship in Brokerage Account

In 2003, Wayne Brown opened a brokerage account at Southwest Securities.  He listed his step-mother as the co-applicant on the account, and he selected “Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship” as the type of account.  After Wayne’s death, his wife brought a lawsuit against Wayne’s step-mother, challenging her right of survivorship and seeking the funds in the account.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the step-mother, and the Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Wayne and his step-mother owned the account as joint tenants with a right of survivorship.  Specifically, the Court held that parties are not required to use the exact language from the Texas Probate Code (now called the Texas Estates Code) to create a valid right of survivorship.  Instead, “[a]ll that is required to make an interest ‘survive’ to another party is a word or phrase expressing that the interest of the deceased party will survive to the surviving party.”

Mims-Brown v. Brown, No. 05-12-01132-CV