All assets owned solely in a deceased person’s name cannot be distributed directly to the individuals listed in the will. Before distribution is due, the assets must go through court-supervised administration.
What Happens to Florida Bank Accounts with no Beneficiary? – The Verdict
Whether a deceased person’s bank account must go through probate depend on how the asset was titled at the time of death. If the bank account holder died without designating beneficiaries or jointly holding the account with someone else, the account is subject to probate in Florida.
It is possible to anticipate what will happen to a Florida bank account upon the owner’s passing.
The first step is to verify whether the decedent was the sole owner of the account. Bank accounts listing only the decedent or the estate as beneficiaries are part of the probate estate.
Dying without a will exposes the assets subject to probate to the state laws of intestacy. In such cases, the court is responsible for the division and distribution of the decedent’s assets (including bank accounts) based on a statutory order of preference.
A solid estate plan can help bank account holders to have full control over their banking assets upon death and ensure they will be passed to the persons chosen as beneficiaries. Without an estate plan, banking assets may be distributed following a default statutory order and not the decedent’s wishes.
Beneficiary Designations vs. Florida Probate – Is it Possible to Avoid Court-Supervised Administration Upon Death?
When someone dies owning a bank account with designated beneficiaries, the account will pass directly to the chosen persons. This way, the inheritance rights of the individuals listed as beneficiaries do not depend on:
- The existence of a will
- The validity of a will
- Court authorization
- Appointment of a personal representative
- Probate proceedings
Once the owner of the account dies, the account passes directly to the individuals appointed as his or her beneficiaries. Examples of assets with beneficiary designations include:
- Retirement accounts (e.g., IRAs, 401(k)s, etc.)
- Bank accounts owned through joint tenancy with rights of survivorship
- Bank accounts owned through tenancy by the entirety
- Payable-on-death (POD) accounts
- Transfer-on-death (TOD) accounts
- Life insurance or brokerage-related accounts listing anyone but the decedent or its estate as beneficiaries
Using beneficiary designations strategically is a valuable method to avoid probate and ensure your loved ones will have access to money held in your bank account when you are no longer among them.
Another strategy is to hold a jointly owned account with a trustworthy person, such as a spouse, an adult child, or the person appointed as the executor in your last will. If one of the owners of the account dies, the surviving co-owner receives full ownership of the asset without court intervention.
Please note that selecting the right person to own a joint banking account is a crucial decision. Whether you want to designate beneficiaries for a personal account or create a joint banking account to avoid probate, work with an expert Florida attorney.