My father died on 12/13/04. His will states that after his debts are paid the balance of the accounts should be split among his three children. One of the accounts is titled POD. Does the POD status override the will? Should that PODaccount balance be transferred to the beneficiary and then divide the remaining money?
First a general caveat (lawyers like to do this as you know). The entire will and the terms (title) of the POD (pay on death) account should be reviewed by a probate/estate attorney to be certain that your statements are correct. The POD account, just like an insurance policy or IRA account with a beneficiary designation, passes outside the will and is governed (controlled) by the title or ownership of the account. Thus, if there are no other considerations the conclusion is probably correct: the POD is paid to the named person in the account and the remaining assets are distributed to the children under the will. A few more points, however, should also be considered. You might be able to change the results through a disclaimer within 9 months of death. You need to check with a local probate lawyer about whether a POD account can be disclaimed and how. This might be a method to get the balance in the account distributed equally. Taxes must also be addressed. If the estate will be subject to state or federal estate taxes the executor must ascertain how they will be paid and by whom. If the POD account is large, and the estate taxable, a determination as to whether the beneficiary of the POD account bears a portion of tax may be the single most significant factor in the estate's administration. Bottom line: sounds simple and may be, but consult with someone expert before doing anything as any or all of these issues may be relevant.
Subscribe to our email list to receive information on consumer webcasts and blogs, for practical legal information in simple English, delivered to your inbox. For more professional driven information, please visit Shenkman Law to subscribe.