You may not know that starting your estate planning could begin with just a few steps. In particular, if you have bank accounts, savings accounts or other similar accounts, you could easily name beneficiaries to those accounts and begin getting your end-of-life affairs in order more quickly than you ever imagined.
The reason that getting started with these accounts is an easy way to address certain parts of your estate is that, commonly, they are transfer on death accounts. As a result, if you name beneficiaries to these accounts and keep them updated, they will be ready to pass on to those beneficiaries after your passing.
Who can you name as beneficiaries?
In reality, you could name any party you wish to act as the beneficiary of your TOD accounts. In fact, you could even name more than one beneficiary if you wish to divide the assets in the account between multiple people. You may worry that naming beneficiaries would mean that those parties could access your funds before your passing, but fortunately, that is not the case. Their claim to the accounts does not go into effect until after your passing.
You could even change your mind about who you want to act as the beneficiary of an account, and you have the ability to change those designations whenever you like. In fact, it is wise to review those designations periodically in order to ensure that the named individuals are still in a position to receive the assets.
TOD accounts avoid probate
A benefit of transfer on death accounts is that they do not have to go through probate before your named beneficiaries receive the assets. As a result, they could obtain their bequests in a much quicker manner than those receiving assets that must go through probate. In order for the transfer to take place, the executor would need to send a copy of the death certificate to the appropriate parties at the applicable institutions, such as a bank agent, who would then transfer the account to the named beneficiary.
If you have questions about transfer on death accounts or other ways in which you can name beneficiaries for your assets, you may wish to speak with a Washington estate planning attorney. This legal professional could help you understand your planning options, assist in starting the process and explain what probate could mean for your estate.