Does Money Left in My Bank Account Have to Go Through Probate?

LegalQuestionNo. There is more than one way to avoid the probate process of your bank funds.  If you know who you want to receive the funds, one option, is to add that person to your bank account, as a joint owner.   However, for a variety of reasons, that will be addressed in another blog, that may not be the best solution.  Thus, today’s subject is the “payable on death” or “transfer on death” account designations.  This only requires that you go to your bank and identify the person that you wish to receive the funds following your death (they may ask you for their social security number for later identification purposes).  Then tell the bank that you wish for this person to receive the funds AFTER you pass away.  Placing this designation on your account does not provide that person with any ownership rights during your lifetime.  This means that they will not be able to gain access to your account information, write checks, use your debit card (unless you gave them the PIN number) or make withdrawals.  Of course, anyone can always make a deposit (if they have your account number)!  Thereafter and with this designation, the identified person need only present a certified copy of your death certificate along with proper identification and the account will be immediately closed and the money transferred to the designated person.  Thus, the money is available soon after burial and not months or years, while your assets are probated and taxes or court fees are calculated and/or assessed.  Of course, this can be done with any person, relative or not.  Finally, please note that this works with some investment accounts as well.  

Categories: Estates and Trusts

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