Home » Blog » Who Gets My Bank Account When I Die?
Who gets my bank account when I die?

Who Gets My Bank Account When I Die?

Troy Werner and his family

Written by Troy Werner

Troy Werner has been an indispensable asset to The Werner Law Firm since joining in 2009, providing exceptional legal service to its clients.

Get To Know Troy!
POSTED ON: August 11, 2023

After you die, several things can happen to your bank account, depending on your account type, how you’ve set up your account before your passing and whether you’ve set up a will or trust.

Investopedia’s recent article, “What Happens to Your Bank Account After Death?” details the common ways you can set up your account to make things as simple as possible after your passing and what will happen if you don’t set up anything beforehand. In California, that means primarily avoiding the need to go into court for probate of a bank account.

The easiest way to pass your bank account on to your heirs after your passing is to make sure you name payable-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) beneficiaries on your accounts. This ensures that they won’t have to go through probate. When you name a payable-on-death beneficiary, they won’t have direct access to your money until you die. You can change the named payable-on-death beneficiary at any time.

A bank will frequently freeze an account upon notification of the holder's death to prevent fraud. Therefore, it's important to have a payable on death (POD) beneficiary designated to ensure that your loved ones can access your money if you pass away.

Adding account holders to your bank accounts can make things easier for your heirs after your passing. However, it can have downsides while you are living. Note that most joint account holders are considered joint tenants with rights of survivorship (JTWROS). That means the account passes to the survivor(s) when an account holder dies.

The other people on your account may also be subject to gift tax and can withdraw funds from the account whether or not you want them to. The assets in the account are legally considered theirs to qualify for government programs or if they have a creditor with a judgment against them.

If you don’t set up anything before your passing, your accounts will go to probate and be distributed according to state probate law. If your loved ones contact the financial institution, the bank simply will not provide them with any information. They will instruct them that they need "letters of administration" or "letters testamentary," which are both formal court orders made in California probate court to appoint someone as the executor or administrator of an estate.

Without a will, an executor will be appointed who will be responsible for paying off any creditors of the deceased. The remaining money will be distributed to the spouse and children of the decedent.

However, if the deceased has named a payable-on-death (POD) beneficiary for the account, they will get access to it immediately. They simply need to show the bank a death certificate and identification.

If you have a simple estate with no assets besides a bank account, adding a payable-on-death beneficiary to your account(s) is the easiest way to avoid probate. Probate of a bank account can be a long process, but it can be avoided with proper planning.

If you have a probate issue or an issue with a bank account, an experienced probate attorney in Los Angeles can help you navigate the process and figure out a game plan to handle the bank account.

If you have any probate questions, schedule a free appointment with us through our online appointment page. We would be happy to see how we can help.

You can also read reviews from some of the hundreds of clients we have helped over the years.

Reference: Investopedia (June 13, 2023) “What Happens to Your Bank Account After Death?”

Share This Post

Why Our Living Trust Law Firm & Probate Attorneys?

Founded in 1975 by L. Rob Werner and serving California for over 48 years, our dedicated attorneys are available for clients, friends, and family members to receive the legal help they need and deserve. You can trust in our experience and reputation to help navigate you through your unique legal matters.

Whether you need help creating a living trust or navigating probate, our living trust law firm's compassionate team of estate planning lawyers and probate lawyers are here to help you and ready to answer your questions.

Our goal is to make your case as easy as possible for you. Hiring a lawyer can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. From the moment you contact our firm, through the final resolution of your case, our goal is to make the process easy and understandable. We cannot change the fact that probate is a long and complicated process, but through our Werner Law Firm Difference, we strive to go out of our way to keep you informed of your case through every step of the way. We are constantly refining our processes and procedures for a more streamlined and calm client experience. Our goal is to have you feel like a burden was lifted from your shoulders, and that we made the whole process an easy one

If you're dealing with a legal matter, we urge you to schedule a free initial appointment today and join the many satisfied clients who have contacted Werner Law Firm.

Book an Initial Call Now

Join Our eNewsletter and our California Estate Planning and Probate Blog Digest

Werner Law Firm logo
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. See full disclaimer here.
Santa Clarita, CA Office

27433 Tourney Rd, Suite 200
Santa Clarita, California 91355

Los Angeles, CA Office

445 S. Figueroa St., Suite 3100
Los Angeles, California 90071

Bakersfield, CA Office

4900 California Ave, Tower B-210
Bakersfield, California 93309

Newport Beach, CA Office

23 Corporate Plaza Dr., Suite 150
Newport Beach, California 92660

Lancaster, CA Office

626 W Lancaster Blvd.,
Lancaster, California 93534

Pasadena, CA Office

35 North Lake Avenue, Suite 710
Pasadena, California 91101

Simi Valley, CA Office

2655 First St, Suite 250
Simi Valley, CA Office, California 93065

Encino, CA Office

15760 Ventura Blvd, Suite 700
Encino, California 91436

Oxnard, CA Office

300 E Esplanade Dr., 9th Floor
Oxnard, California 93036

Santa Barbara, CA Office

7 W. Figueroa St., Suite 200
Santa Barbara, California 93101

IMS - Estate Planning and Elder Law Practice Growth Advisors
Powered by