If you’re single with only one child, who’s also your only heir, you may question whether you need to make a will naming him or her as executor or to name your child as a Pay-on-Death (POD) on your accounts. Generally, the answer is that you’re able to do both. However, a will is important to for you to have for a few reasons.
nj.com’s recent article asks “Do I really need a will to help my son when I die?” The article explains that by naming your only child as the beneficiary on a POD or Transfer on Death (TOD) account, that move only governs the transfer of that particular account at your death. For items like an automobile, your child may need to be appointed as an administrator by the surrogate or probate judge to transfer the property. A person named as administrator of an estate under intestacy (where there’s no will) generally has to post a bond based on the value of the estate’s assets.
Getting a bond can be difficult, depending on the administrator’s credit history, employment and their own assets. While a bond isn’t required for all small estates to qualify as administrator of a small estate, the assets must be specifically identified. This is sometimes frustrating because financial institutions won’t provide information on accounts until after the administrator is appointed. However, a properly prepared will controls the disposition of all of your property not otherwise disposed of by beneficiary designation or joint ownership with rights of survivorship.
A will also names the executor. This person is responsible for administering your estate, allowing third parties to release information to your executor who must collect your assets, pay any of your creditors and take care of the distribution of your property in accordance with your will. In addition, your will generally waives the bond which would otherwise be required by the surrogate.
Bottom line: having a will is more comprehensive and can avoid some stress for your child. Talk with an experienced estate planning attorney to create a valid will.
One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation. Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about your estate plan, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security. Our office is located in Santa Ana, CA but we serve all of California including Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Newport Beach, and Anaheim.
Reference: nj.com (July 3, 2019) “Do I really need a will to help my son when I die?”