Is Creditor Entitled to the Full Proceeds of a Joint Account ?

In Mendel v. Chervanyou (147 Misc 2d 1056), the petitioner judgment creditor claimed that it was entitled to the full proceeds of the joint account which was in the name of the judgment debtor and another person. the court held that a rebuttable presumption exists that each joint tenant owns half of the account. In Mendel, the court stated that the petitioner judgment creditor had the burden to prove that the presumption should be rebutted to allow the judgment creditor to levy upon more than half of the account. In Mendel (at 1059-1060), the court held that the judgment creditor failed to rebut the presumption even though the nonjudgment debtor tenant defaulted: "There is thus a need to balance the rebuttable presumption that each joint tenant owns half with the lack of opposition to an attempt to take more than half the account. In overcoming the presumption the burden of proof lies on the one seeking to set aside the presumption, i.e., the judgment creditor ( Household Fin. Corp. v. Rochester Community Sav. Bank, supra, at 440). JTJL, Inc. has presented no proof showing that the presumption should be set aside. Moreover, the nonappearance of the nonjudgment debtor tenant while obviously diminishing the amount of proof needed does not by itself constitute rebuttal of the presumption. Accordingly, I conclude that based on the unrebutted presumption of equality JTJL, Inc. may collect from the account up to one half of its proceeds."