An article by Paul Premack brings up an interesting point about bank accounts in Texas.  I’ve discovered that many of my clients weren’t aware that there are several different ways to allow access to bank accounts.  Each method has its own pros and cons…

 Five Types of Bank Account That Allow Access By Multiple People:

Single-Party Account With A Power of Attorney

Set up a regular bank account without naming anyone else in any of the paperwork.  Get an estate planning attorney in your area to create a “durable general power of attorney” for you.  The power of attorney you create will allow a family member to access the bank account if needed to pay bills, etc.

The nice thing in this arrangement is that you can still use your Last Will to direct where the money in the bank account will go when you die.  Since no one else is named anywhere on the account, the bank account will be frozen upon your death.  The money will just sit there until your Last Will makes it to court.

Texas POD Account

This is another kind of single-party account, only this time we’re adding a “POD” designation.  POD is short for “payable on death.”  The bank will ask who the beneficiary is, and that beneficiary will get all the money in the account just as soon as the bank receives a death certificate.

This arrangement will trump your Will.  For example, if your Will says that your son should get 50% of your money and your daughter should get 50% of your money–but all the money is in a POD account with your daughter named beneficiary–then your daughter will end up with 100% and your son gets nothing.

You also should keep your POD account in mind when you create your Will so that you don’t end up with a son or daughter who gets to “double-dip” from  your estate by inheriting both from your POD account and your Will.

Bank Account Owned By A Living Trust

You could set up a single-party account in the name of a Living Trust instead of putting the account in your own name.  This way, technically, the Living Trust would own the bank account.

The nice things about this arrangement are that it keeps the bank account out of probate court and that the trustee of the living trust has a legal obligation (a “fiduciary duty”) to only use the funds for your best interest during your lifetime.  When you die, the Living Trust document will direct where the money in the bank account will go.

The negatives to this arrangement are that it’s a hassle and that’s expensive to set up.  Also, it’s unnecessary in most cases because the same goals can be achieved with easier methods.

A “Convenience Account”

Some banks, but not all, allow convenience accounts.  The account is technically owned only by you (a single-party account), but you give a cosigner access to the account.  Since the account is only owned by you, when you die, the money in the account will go wherever your Last Will says.  The bank will freeze the bank account until your Will goes through probate court.

A Joint Tenant With Right Of Survivorship Account

This account (often called JTWROS, ROS, or JT TEN), is not a single-party account.  You would basically co-own the money in the account with another person you name.  Many marital bank accounts are JTWROS (even if the spouses are unaware).  Upon the death of either account holder, the surviving account holder owns 100% of the money without any probate court involvement.

Which Kind Of Bank Account Is Best?

That completely depends on your unique needs, your estate planning goals, and your family.  For example, you may want to be very cautious before giving a financially desperate family member access to your bank account.  I know it sounds like common sense, but I see it happen fairly frequently.  Also, giving one family member access to the bank account while not allowing access by other family members can really cause tension.  The family members who aren’t named on the account may just assume that money is “disappearing” out of your bank account.

The moral of the story is to talk to your estate planning attorney and your banker about your options.  There is an option that’s best suited for you, but you need to investigate those options.

 

Visit www.ShuttLawFirm.com for more information on a Texas POD Account, Right of Survivorship Account, Convenience Account, how to get money out of the bank after someone has died, or how much probate costs, contact Richardson, Texas lawyer Isaac Shutt at ishutt@shuttlawfirm.com.

Shutt Law Firm’s office is conveniently located just north of Dallas, TX, near the intersection of highway 75 and Campbell Road in Richardson, TX.

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You can also call Mr. Shutt at (214) 302-8197 for more information on the topic discussed in this article or to discuss a different legal matter. For existing clients, quick phone-calls and brief e-mails are always free at Shutt Law Firm PLLC. Please consider the Shutt Law Firm if you need letters testamentary, to know if you should probate a Last Will, how to probate in Texas, Last Will and Testament, or you need a probate lawyer in Dallas, Richardson, Plano, Allen, McKinney, Garland, Addison, TX or surrounding North Texas area.

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this brief article constitutes legal advice. The information provided herein is merely provided in the spirit of education. If you have a legal question, you should consult an attorney for your specific legal situation. Further, nothing in this article shall be construed to have started an attorney-client relationship. No such relationship exists until both you and attorney Isaac Shutt sign an engagement letter with the Shutt Law Firm, PLLC.

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