It is never too soon to begin planning your estate with the advice and guidance of a Pasadena estate planning attorney at Barilari & Williams. Estate planning is essential for families, business owners, and anyone who wants to provide responsibly for their loved ones.

But whether or not you have prepared an estate plan, you need to state your intentions for your bank accounts clearly, and you also need to know how to transfer the cash from those accounts to the right party at the time of your death.

If you do not state your intentions clearly, or if you are not sure how to transfer the cash in your bank accounts at the time of your death, your cash could end up in the wrong hands. Keep reading, and you will learn what steps to take.

Should You Designate a Beneficiary?

If your bank accounts are in your name only, and if you do not name a beneficiary, the cash in those accounts belongs to your estate and is subject to probate. However, most bank accounts in California allow for a transfer-on-death (TOD) designation.

A TOD designation lets you name a beneficiary for your bank accounts and avoid the probate process. With a TOD designation, at the time of your death, the cash in your accounts transfers directly to the beneficiary, is no longer part of your estate, and avoids probate.

Should You Set Up a Trust?

A trust is another effective way to leave cash. Designating a properly-designed trust as the legal beneficiary of your bank accounts keeps the cash outside of the probate process. It can then be distributed to loved ones (or others) by the trustee you name to oversee the trust.

A Pasadena estate planning attorney at Barilari & Williams can discuss your options for setting up a trust – there are several kinds – and prepare the legal paperwork for you.

Should You Prepare a Power of Attorney?

Let’s say you’re elderly or disabled, and you need someone to help you manage the finances and write checks on your behalf. You do not need to add that person’s name to your bank accounts, and you shouldn’t. Adding someone’s name makes that person a legal co-owner of your cash, and creates a presumption that you intend for that person to receive those funds upon your death that can only be overcome upon a showing of a contrary intention by clear and convincing evidence.

If you need someone to help you manage your finances and write checks on your behalf, the smarter solution is to create a financial power of attorney and name that person as your agent or to make your account a part of your trust and name a trustee who can use those funds for your benefit.

A Pasadena estate planning attorney at Barilari & Williams can prepare a power of attorney on your behalf, and you’ll be able to specify exactly what authority your agent will and will not have regarding your finances.

We Advise and Serve Clients Throughout Southern California

Sound estate planning makes it easy for your loved ones – and for the courts – to understand what your intentions are regarding your estate and your beneficiaries.

With more than a decade of combined experience, and with offices in Long Beach and Pasadena, the estate planning attorneys at Barilari & Williams are here to advise and serve you. Your first consultation with an estate planning lawyer at Barilari & Williams is provided without a fee.

To set up a power of attorney, a trust, or a comprehensive estate plan – or if you would like to learn more first – call Barilari & Williams now at 888-EST-PLAN to schedule your free first consultation.