Transfer/Payable on Death Designations
Transfer/Payable on Death Designations and related Probate (Estate) and Trust Litigation in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, Pinellas County, and surrounding West Florida areas.
One of the lesser known estate planning tools is the utilization of transfer-on-death designations, or sometimes called payable-on-death designations. Quite often, elderly adults will place a family member or close friend on their financial accounts as a joint owner or as a transfer-on-death beneficiary. While these steps are usually taken as a convenience to the elderly person to assist with managing their finances, these designations have a drastic effect on the individual’s estate plan.
Assets jointly owned at a banking institution, or accounts with transfer-on-death designees, pass outside of probate (estate). Therefore, the owner’s last will and testament and/or trust documents will have no bearing on how these assets pass. This fact is commonly misunderstood by the banking customers.
Moreover, since the establishment of these accounts and transfer-on-death designations take place without the proper formalities of executing a will or trust, and without the presence of a licensed attorney, these setting are often the most ripe for exploitation and undue influence. For an individual with bad intentions, there is no easier setting to take advantage of a confused or dependent elderly adult.
Potential clients too often believe that these monies are a “lost cause” because they are not part of the administration of the Decedent’s estate or trust, and are typically disbursed to the “beneficiary” or joint owner shortly after the death. This is simply not true. Florida law has evolved to protection the rightful beneficiaries under these precise circumstances. Potential claimants can seek to set aside these improper designations and even obtain money judgments for assets already removed.
If you have concerns about improper transfer-on-death designations or jointly owned accounts, please contact our office, as our attorneys routinely deal with these banking disputes in the courts of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota and the surrounding West Florida areas.