Payable-On-Death Accounts And Your Estate Plan WRITTEN BY CHRISTIE TOURNET
PROBATE ASSETS ARE
assets that must go
through a succession for purposes of re-titling: transferring title/ownership from a deceased owner to the rightful beneficiary. The most familiar probate assets include real estate and vehicles. However, some assets like retirement accounts, some annuities, and life insurance are non-probate assets, meaning those assets typically do not go through succession. Instead, non-probate assets are paid via a contract to a “designated beneficiary.” Customarily, bank accounts are also considered probate assets that must go through succession to correctly update ownership of remaining funds on deposit for someone who has passed. A Louisiana statute, La R.S. 6:314, permits a depositor to turn a probate asset into a “designated beneficiary” type of asset, where a beneficiary can access funds on deposit without having to first formally open succession. The Louisiana statute permits a depositor to provide an affidavit, or an act executed with a bank officer to designate named beneficiaries of remaining funds at the depositor's death. The bank may conclusively rely on the affidavit or act for disbursement of the funds. The bank will update the name of the account as a “payable-ondeath to” account. Upon the bank’s receipt of the death certificate, the bank releases the depositor’s funds to the named beneficiary. In practice, we see widowed clients that want to provide an easier route for children to access funds and pay for final and ongoing expenses without having to first open succession. In addition, clients with limited assets try to plan so their beneficiaries
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may forego a formal succession process. Both cases lend to favorable circumstances for considering a payable-on-death account. Consider if the Louisiana “POD” statute might coordinate with your estate planning needs and intentions.
Christie Tournet & Associates, LLC, provides estate planning, estate administration and commercial law services. The practice is located at 1795 W. Causeway Approach, Suite 103A in Mandeville. 985-951-2177, tournetlaw.com.