Logourl black

Bernhard v. Bank of America National Trust & Savings Association

Supreme Court of California
122 P.2d 892 (Cal. 1942)


Clara Sather, an elderly woman, was in poor health so authorized Charles Cook, who had taken her in and was taking care of her, to make withdrawals from her account at the Security First National Bank of Los Angeles (LA Bank). Cook later opened an account at the First National Bank of San Dimas (SD Bank) in the name of “Clara Sather by Charles O. Cook.” Subsequently, in the presence of a teller, a cashier, Cook, and Sather’s doctor, Sather signed a form authorizing the transfer of all the funds in the LA Bank from the LA Bank account to the SD Bank account. Cook later withdrew the entire balance from the SD Bank account and opened a new account in the name of himself and his wife. When Sather died, Cook became executor of her estate and administered the estate without mentioning the funds transferred to the SD Bank. Helen Bernhard and other beneficiaries of Sather’s will (plaintiffs) filed objections to the administration of the will in probate court. The probate court ruled that Sather, during her lifetime, had made a gift to Cook in the amount of the transferred money. Bernhard, after taking over as administratrix of the estate, brought suit against Bank of America National Trust & Savings Association (B of A) (defendant), the successor to the SD Bank. Bernhard sought to recover the amount of the transfer. The trial court ruled in favor of B of A because Cook’s ownership of the funds was established conclusively in the probate court and Bernhard’s claim was precluded as res judicata. Bernhard appealed.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.


The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Holding and Reasoning (Traynor, J.)

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Here's why 90,000 law students rely on our case briefs:

  • Reliable - written by law professors and practitioners not other law students.
  • The right length and amount of information - includes the facts, issue, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your class - works on your mobile and tablet.
  • 12,195 briefs - keyed to 164 casebooks.
  • Uniform format for every case brief.
  • Written in plain English - not in legalese and not just repeating the court's language.
  • Massive library of related video lessons - and practice questions.
  • Ability to tag case briefs in an outlining tool.
  • Top-notch customer support.
Start Your Free Trial Now