To transfer bank accounts when you die there are a few different methods available in Oklahoma. A will works as a way to transfer ownership of an asset like a bank account from someone deceased to someone who is living. The will or Estate plan is used as a guide for a probate court judge to help determine where the deceased person wanted their assets to go. However, a few assets can be transferred outside of a will. One of those is a bank account.
Transfer Bank Accounts When You Die Without A Will
There are a few different ways to transfer bank accounts when you die in Oklahoma without a will or having to go through probate. Each situation could have its benefits and drawbacks depending on your specific situation. Before deciding on the best way to transfer your bank accounts, it is essential to contact an estate planning attorney to help you look at your situation and determine the best way to move forward.
Using A Transfer On Death Or Beneficiary Form
Each bank and financial institution has a transfer on death or beneficiary form for you to fill out for each of your bank accounts. These forms act as a contract between you and the bank. When you pass away, the individuals you have listed as the beneficiaries will need to provide the bank with a death certificate. The bank or financial institution will issue a check to each beneficiary and close the account.
For this to work, you must ensure you have the beneficiaries properly designated with the banks. Since all banks vary in their process of doing this, you will want to ask your bank if you have beneficiaries listed on each of your accounts. If you do not, ask for one of the bank’s forms. Each bank will have a different form, so not one general form exists for all banks.
When you decide to transfer your bank account to beneficiaries, you are not making them owners of the account. The only time the beneficiaries have access to the money is once you pass away and they provide a death certificate to the bank. In these cases, the beneficiaries are given the money outright and can spend it on whatever they wish. The funds can also be seized by creditors or taken in a divorce. Because of this, there are other ways to transfer a bank account to your children while protecting the money in other estate planning tools.
Having A Joint Owner On The Account
Another way to transfer your bank account without having a will is to have a joint owner on the account with you. Typically, we see this with married couples who own the account as joint tenants. This means that each spouse can use the account and access the entire sum of money without approval from the other spouse.
Upon the death of one spouse, the surviving spouse becomes the sole owner of the account. At that time, they can do whatever they please with the money in the account since it is all theirs. This type of transfer works best between spouses.
This becomes difficult when the first spouse passes away and the surviving spouse wants to add a child to the bank account. When you add someone else to your bank account, they become the joint owner and can do anything they wish with your money. At financial institutions, they would have just as much power over the account as you would. When you pass away, the account becomes theirs, and no will is necessary to move the account.
This can become an issue if whomever you put on the account is sued and responsible for paying a judgment. Since their name is on the account as an owner, the other party will be able to recover damages from your account. This is also the case in divorce and creditor problems.
Adding another person to your bank account to transfer it can be a risky process. Before you add someone else to your account, consult an experienced attorney to understand your options and the risks involved.
Oklahoma Estate Planning Attorneys Are Ready To Help You
Our attorneys are experienced in helping you determine the best ways to transfer your assets after your death. The attorneys at Kania Law Office will walk you through your options. Call (918) 743-2233 today to schedule your appointment or contact us online.