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Do you need to probate a joint bank account?

Typically, joint bank accounts are not subject to the probate process. When one member of a joint bank account dies, ownership automatically passes to the surviving member(s). However, if the account is owned by “tenants in common”, then the deceased member’s share of the account would be subject to probate. After probate, their share would pass to their beneficiaries instead of the co-owner.

In general, probate can be avoided by establishing:

· A joint bank account with right of survivorship;

· Payable on death (POD) accounts; or

· Transfer on death (TOD) accounts, which apply to securities such as stocks or bonds.

With POD accounts, your assets will automatically transfer to your named joint owner or selected beneficiaries upon your death– and they are not obligated to share the assets with any other beneficiaries named in your Will or trust. Please note that this could mean that one person may receive a greater share of your estate than you had intended. Therefore, such forms of ownership are usually not recommended solely for estate planning purposes and should be part of a comprehensive estate plan. However, in certain situations, they may make more sense, such as when an individual has just one beneficiary.

The team at Scarola Law can help you create an estate plan that successfully protects your assets. We’ll help you navigate the complexities of joint bank accounts and other estate planning matters. Give us a call at (720) 463-3573 today to schedule a free consultation.

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