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Transfers Outside of Probate: Payable on Death and Transferable on Death


Hello, I’m Doug Jackson, founding attorney of The Law Firm of Douglas G. Jackson. Today, I want to talk to you about how to avoid transferring assets through probate, specifically, how to make your accounts payable or transferable on death.

Have you ever been told that you want to avoid probate?  Have you ever been told that it’s expensive to probate a case?  Well, generally speaking, unless you want the court to oversee the distribution of assets, you should avoid probate as much as possible.  The more that passes through probate, the less value that will actually pass to the people to which you want it to pass.

People often think of estate planning as something for just multimillionaires, but that’s simply not the case.  An estate plan can be as complicated or as simple as your estate needs.  Some estates may be as simple as a power of attorney, a living will and medical surrogate, and accounts that are payable or transferable on death.

Most people have a bank account.  For a lot of people, that’s where most of their liquid assets are held.  Did you know that you can make your account payable on death (or “POD”) to a beneficiary.  If you do this, your money won’t have to pass through probate.  Usually, the only thing the beneficiary will need to do is provide a copy of the death certificate.  By making it payable on death (or “POD”), your beneficiary will get access to the money, faster, and it won’t count toward your probate estate.  Since the attorney’s fees in Florida probate cases factor in the size of your probate estate, this will save you money.

It’s not just for bank accounts, though.  I  lot of people have other types of accounts, including brokerage accounts or 401ks.  Many of these accounts have an option where you can make them transferable on death.  Just like a payable on death bank account, an account that is transferable on death will pass to your beneficiary outside of probate.  It’s faster for your beneficiary to get access to the money, and more of it will go to your beneficiary.

When you’re planning your estate, it’s often a good idea to keep the government from acting as the middleman.  It will save you time, and money.  This is why it’s so important, even if you don’t have a large estate, to still have a plan, even if it’s a very simple plan.  Preparing a simple plan with a licensed attorney may be cheaper than you think.  It will definitely save your beneficiaries time and money.  Some firms, like ours, even have payment plans, so you can stretch out the payments, which gives access to justice to more people.

Make sure that you have a plan that fits your needs.  Where applicable, make it so that the government doesn’t have to play the middleman.  Your beneficiaries will be happy for it, and they’ll be able to get access to what you want them to have faster than if it passes through probate.

When you’re planning your estate, remember to check and update with your bank and other investment accounts to see whether you’ve made them payable on death or transferable on death to your preferred beneficiary.  Also remember, get your legal action with the Law Firm of Douglas G. Jackson.



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