Your checking and savings accounts are the types of accounts that would typically need to pass through a court supervised probate procedure after your death. By altering the ownership of these accounts just slightly, you can ensure immediate access to these accounts after your death without any court involvement. Normally spouses have each of their names on a bank account. Thus, when one spouse passes away, the other spouse can access the account without any difficulty or court involvement. However, I should note that the way the account ownership is structured can limit your spouses access to the account. If the account is in the name of you AND your spouse as opposed to you OR your spouse, you may encounter some issues accessing the account independently. To ensure your spouse’s access to all bank accounts be sure to check with the bank to see that accounts are titled with an OR designation and add your spouse to any accounts held individually.
The next access problem that needs to be dealt with involves the ability of your children to access your checking and savings account after the death of the surviving spouse (when both you and your spouse have passed). To allow your children to access accounts after your death to pay bills and other final expenses quickly and easily, you must name a child as having signature authority on your accounts during your lifetime. This child would have access to those accounts immediately, so it is best to name a child that you trust not to use the funds in your account prematurely. Some banks will also allow make certain accounts payable on death, and this allows you to avoid court involvement to transfer the funds in those accounts. It is best to check with your bank and see what kinds of payable on death options they offer.
Our firm specializes in Louisiana probate avoidance with revocable living trusts, and we can guide you through avoiding probate for all of your property from your real estate, to your investments, vehicles, and bank accounts. If you are interested in Louisiana probate avoidance or have any questions about other aspects of Estate planning, feel free to call me at (504) 274-1980 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.