Estate Planning Pitfalls: Payable-On-Death Accounts

Did you know that the government has the ability to overrule your Will?

Abington PA AttorneysWe all want the best for our loved ones when we’re gone. That includes ensuring our wishes are clear in our Will – for family AND the government. It’s not always straightforward though, and there are many legal and government pitfalls that can cause added stress for your loved ones after you’re gone, and cost you money.

For example, suppose your Will states that after your death, 50% of your assets go to your spouse and 50% divided equally between the children. Sounds pretty clear, right? However, if all your cash, savings and your home are jointly owned with your spouse, the children get nothing! That’s because Pennsylvania Estate law states that any assets held in a joint bank account automatically belong to the survivor. Likewise, any real estate such as your house and vacation homes automatically becomes the property of the co-owner on your passing through what is called “operation of law.”

That means everyone you name in your Will including your children essentially receive nothing if your assets are held jointly, no matter what your Will says!

What’s worse, your spouse could be left scrambling to meet your wishes, and there may be other legal complications for his or her Will now too. There is an upside though – your spouse will not have to pay inheritance tax since there isn’t any tax due on transfers to a surviving spouse. But on the downside, it’s possible your wishes can’t or won’t be carried out ever. As estate planning attorneys, we’ve seen too many times where families are torn apart because a Will wasn’t clear or couldn’t be executed as planned.

Don’t let this happen to your family! Call us today to find out how we can help ensure your wishes are followed to the letter. In cases of ensuring your loved ones receive cash, it might be as simple as setting up a Payable-on-Death account for every person you name in your Will. There are other options that Will help protect your interests – and protect your family from misunderstandings.

Get educated about the law. Get control of your Will. Get the peace of mind you and your family deserve. Let’s make an appointment today and find out how we can ensure your wishes are met, relieve your tax burden, and make things easier for your family when you’re gone. Call Jim Egbert or Tom Barnes of Egbert & Barnes, P.C., Montgomery County PA lawyers, today.

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