How Do You Switch Title (Names) On Bank Accounts When Someone Passes Away

In order to switch title to Bank Accounts, you must determine if the account is:

  • Trust Account
  • Joint Account
  • Account with a Pay on Death Beneficiary (Beneficiaries inherit your assets)
  • Regular -Account with no Pay on Death Beneficiary

The above 4 types of accounts will go through different procedures to switch title.

If you want to discuss what types of accounts are part of your particular situation, click here to schedule a strategy session today!

For Trust accounts, you will need to change the title on the account to the new trustee. You should likely seek advice from legal counsel for a process called Trust Administration.

For Joint accounts, the full account will be distributed to the Joint Account Holders in full without any Court proceedings (Probate). You must secure a death certificate and then simply follow the bank’s instructions and fill out the proper forms.

For Accounts with a Pay on Death Beneficiaries (#2 above), the full account will be distributed to the listed beneficiary in full without any Court proceedings (Probate). You must secure a death certificate and then simply follow the bank’s instructions and fill out the proper forms.

For Regular Accounts with no Pay on Death Beneficiary, you will need to go to Court to request access by a mechanism called Probate. If you have a Will, this document should control where the account will end up. If you do not have a Will, California law will control where your account will end up.

Probate is a long and more expensive process that should be avoided by creating a living trust.

In another blog post, I mentioned several reasons why Joint Tenancy should not be used.

Pay on Death Beneficiaries should also likely not be used because if the beneficiary dies before you, then the account will go through a Court proceeding to change title to the heirs.

With a Living Trust, you avoid any issues above and make the process of changing title after someone passes away much simpler and inexpensive.

The most common problem I see is a couple sets up a Living Trust and places their house inside of the Living Trust. The couple, however, forgets to put their $400,000 bank account into the trust. What is the result?

The house will go through a quick Trust Administration while the $400,000 account will need to go through a Court proceeding (Probate).

My goal with every client is to avoid any Court proceeding if one is not necessary.

If you want to discuss what your family needs to avoid Court proceedings, click here to schedule a strategy session today!