How are bank accounts handled in estate planning?

On Behalf of | Oct 10, 2023 | Estate Planning |

Estate planning encompasses many tools and mechanisms to ensure your assets are allocated appropriately after you’re gone. It’s not just about significant assets like homes and investments. Even everyday bank accounts must be carefully considered.

When it comes to these accounts, many people may not realize there’s a straightforward method to ensure their wishes are carried out without entangling these assets in lengthy probate processes. A Totten trust, sometimes known as a payable-on-death account, comes into play.

Understanding the role of the Totten trust

With this trust in place, you designate a beneficiary who will automatically inherit the funds in the account upon your death. This setup bypasses the usual probate process, making it a quicker and often less complicated method of transferring assets. The beneficiary isn’t able to access the account until you pass away, so there isn’t any concern.

Why it’s wise to exclude these from the will

It’s vital to note that accounts covered by the Totten trust shouldn’t be included in the will. Mentioning them in the will can create confusion and potential legal disputes. When an account is part of a Totten trust, it’s intended to be separate from the will, ensuring a smoother transition of the account to the designated beneficiary without additional legal entanglements.

The beauty of the Totten trust lies in its simplicity and efficiency. By keeping specific bank accounts out of the will and leveraging the benefits of such trusts, you can ensure your assets are distributed smoothly and quickly to the intended recipients. Because Totten trusts are only one component of a comprehensive estate plan, you should be sure to review other avenues for getting your affairs in order.