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In re Estate of Rider

Supreme Court of South Carolina
756 S.E.2d 136 (2014)


Facts

Charles Rider had an investment account with Wachovia Bank, N.A. (Wachovia). Rider had terminal cancer. As a result, on June 17, 2005, Rider authorized Wachovia to transfer $2 million in assets from his account to a new account in the name of his wife, Carolyn (defendant). On June 21 and July 8, Wachovia transferred portions of the assets to Rider’s wife’s new account. Rider passed away on July 8. Wachovia was informed of Rider’s death that day. On July 11, the next business day, and October 20, Wachovia transferred the remainder of the $2 million in assets to Rider’s wife’s account. The personal representative of Rider’s estate (plaintiff) brought suit, seeking a declaratory judgment on whether the transfers made after Rider’s death were part of Rider’s estate. Rider’s wife argued that the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) applied to the transfers. Rider’s daughters from a previous marriage (the McClures) (plaintiffs) argued that agency law applied, and that an agent may not act for a principal after obtaining actual knowledge of the principal’s death. The probate court ruled that the UCC applied and that the transfers made prior to and on the next business day after Rider’s death were valid, but that the fourth transfer was invalid and thus those assets were part of Rider’s estate. The circuit court affirmed. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the third and fourth transfers were invalid and those assets were part of Rider’s estate. The Supreme Court of South Carolina granted a petition for writ of certiorari.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Beatty, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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