If you have checking, savings, retirement, or investment accounts, do you know where the funds in your accounts will go upon your death? While you can distribute assets to beneficiaries through your will, any designation you have made on your accounts will be honored first. Below are a few ways to avoid the probate process by passing financial assets outside of your will.
Beneficiary Designation: If you designate a beneficiary, and sometimes an alternate beneficiary, on a retirement or other type of account, the funds from the account will transfer to the beneficiary you have designated with your financial organization upon your death. These funds will transfer directly without reference to your will, thus keeping these assets out of the probate process.
Payable on Death or Transfer on Death Designation: Some banks will allow you to make a "transfer on death" or "payable on death" designation. This just means that upon your death, the funds from a savings account for instance will transfer to the POD or TOD designee you have selected. Additionally, vehicles in Indiana and Ohio can be registered to transfer on death. The POD/TOD designation is another simple way to transfer assets seamlessly outside of the probate process.
Joint Account Holders: Another way to transfer financial assets outside of a will is to add one or more account holders to your bank account so that the account is held jointly with survivorship rights. Upon your death, the joint account holder with survivorship rights would assume ownership over the account.
The small steps you take today to arrange your affairs can be very helpful to your family and friends down the road.