There are various methods by which one can avoid having their assets await the outcome of a probate proceeding. This time frame can increase in the event that one of the interested parties to such a proceeding decides to contest the will.
One of the simpler assets that should always be structured to avoid probate is that of a bank account, whether the account is a checking or a savings account. If a bank account is titled jointly with another person (i.e., spouse or child), that account automatically passes outside of probate to the surviving account holder by operation of law.
Although one of the issues that occasionally arises in estate litigation occurs when one party tries to argue that a “joint account” was merely a convenience account and that the surviving account holder was only added for purposes of convenience for the other joint account holder. This can be an issue when the deposits and withdrawals are one-sided. However, the joint vs. convenience account is a discussion for a different blog on this issue.
If one seeks to have the account solely in their individual name, it is important that the account have the notation (I/T/F or P/O/D) so that upon the death of the account holder, the beneficiary need to only submit a certified copy of a death certificate to receive the title to the account.
Some bank may have their own individual rules so it is important to know the procedures for the individual financial institution at which you bank.
Furthermore, should a beneficiary predecease (die before) the account holder, it is important to have the account owner change the named beneficiary to avoid having the account go to probate should the owner die before doing so.
Do you have questions? Contact Long Island estate administration attorney Michael W. Alpert today. Call (516) 280-7288 or firstname.lastname@example.org.