Widow stops bank taking €1m from joint account
A WIDOW has succeeded in preventing a bank from taking almost €1m from a joint account to pay back part of a loan taken out by her late husband.
In the High Court, Claire O'Meara claimed Bank of Scotland acted unlawfully and in breach of duty in January 2010 by transferring €1m and €665,000 from two separate joint deposit accounts held with the bank to a €1.6m loan account in the sole name of her late husband John O'Meara.
Yesterday, Ms Justice Mary Laffoy ruled that she was entitled to a declaration that €934,000 held in the first of the two joint accounts was the property of Mrs O'Meara, by right of survivorship and the bank was not entitled to set off the monies in that account against the €1.6m loan.
However, the judge also ruled that Mrs O'Meara did not have a beneficial interest in monies lodged in the second joint deposit account which contained €665,800.
Mr O'Meara, who died in November 2009, was a cattle dealer who also had interests in property.
Mrs O'Meara, a mother of two of Pitchfordstown Stud, Kilcock, Co Kildare, claimed the bank had no authority or any entitlement, to set off and transfer the funds.
She claimed her late husband, who knew at the time he was dying, told his wife in late 2008 that the money in the accounts was for the benefit of Mrs O'Meara and their sons.
The bank denied any wrong doing and claimed it was entitled to set off and transfer the €1.6m sum.
The bank claimed that when the deposit accounts were created, the bank had been told that the money in those accounts would provide cash backing for the loan of €1.6m.
In her judgment, the judge said she was satisfied that some €934,000 contained in the first account was Mrs O'Meara's property. It had been deposited in the account by way of a cheque in both of their names.
The judge said the bank did not get the commitment it required from Mrs O'Meara. In fact the bank "completely ignored" Mrs O'Meara's interests, she added. "The result is that it must suffer the consequences of its own mistake."