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Account beneficiaries and probate

On Behalf of | Apr 23, 2020 | Estate Planning and Wills

When a person passes away, Arizona law doesn’t necessarily include a bank account as part of the person’s estate. In fact, there are several types of financial accounts that might pass to a beneficiary without going through probate. Individuals and couples should be aware that account beneficiaries may receive their assets without going through a probate process.

Many people hold to their bank accounts for a long time. They might create a bank account early in life and then not think about it for many years. However, when a person first opens a bank account, they have the option to name a beneficiary. The person they name remains the beneficiary of the account even if the person later creates a will. When the owner of the account passes away many years later, the name of the beneficiary may be surprising. It may or may not be in keeping with the account owner’s current wishes.

Most checking and savings accounts allow the owner to name a beneficiary. The primary beneficiary is the person who has the right to the funds in the account if the owner passes. The contingent beneficiary is the person who receives the funds if the primary beneficiary predeceases the beneficiary or otherwise does not accept the funds.

Individuals and couples should be aware that when they do their estate planning, financial accounts might pass to the listed beneficiaries. Even if the will or trust says otherwise, the name of the person listed on the bank account as the beneficiary may be the one who receives the funds. Ensuring that a person’s wishes are honored should include reviewing the beneficiaries listed on every financial account. When a person creates their estate plan, they can learn about the different ways that assets pass to heirs. By ensuring that beneficiaries are listed correctly, a person may have confidence that their assets are going to be distributed according to their wishes.