Monthly Archives: February 2012

Avoiding Probate Simply with Payable-on-Death Bank Accounts (“POD”) and Transfer-on-Death Brokerage Accounts (“TOD”)

In California, payable-on-death (POD)  bank accounts and transfer-on-death (TOD) brokerage accounts offer simple ways of avoiding probate. All you need to do is fill out a simple POD or TOD form, provided by the bank or stock brokerage firm, naming the person you want to inherit what remains in the account at your death.

As long as you are alive, the person you named to inherit the money in a payable-on-death (POD) account or the assets in a transfer-on-death (TOD) stock brokerage firm account has no rights to it. You can spend the money, sell the stock,  name a different beneficiary, close the account, or do as you wish.

At your death, the beneficiary just goes to the bank or brokerage firm, provide a certified copy of your death certificate and of his or her identity, and collects whatever funds are in the account without probate court involvement.

If you are married, then the rights of your spouse need to be considered in titling the account. (But that is beyond the scope of this post.)

Repeal of estate tax proposal pending

H.R.1259 –  This bipartisan House bill would permanently repeal the federal estate tax, repeal the federal generation-skipping transfer tax, and extend the $5.12 million lifetime gift tax exemption and 35% gift tax rate. Currently the bill has approximately 194 co-sponsors. Of course, only time will tell what will happen in this election year.