August 31, 2010
Liza: I live in California. Can I get my Will pre-validated? No, you can't. Though I can see why you might want to. Pre-validating a will lets you make sure that your Will won't be challenged in court after you die. Instead, you can get a probate court to declare it valid while you're alive, which is handy, since you're actually around to tell the court that it's exactly the way you want it to be if anyone makes a fuss after being notified of what you intend to do. But so far, only a few states allow pre-validation: Alaska, North Dakota, Ohio, and Delaware. Cynically speaking, it's such a good idea that my guess is lawyer lobbies are trying to block it elsewhere, since it would potentially cut down on probate fights after death (and that's what's called a meal-ticket for attorneys.) If you want to read more, here's a good article from FA (Financial Advisor) magazine.
August 29, 2010
Liza: My Dad has a POD account at our local bank and he says that I can have it and even wrote me a note saying that it is mine. I suggested he contact the bank to make sure that it will go to me but my Dad says that his signed statement is good enough. I don't want to get into a big fight over this. What should I do? If your Dad really wants that account to go to you when he dies, a note to you isn't going to do the trick. What the bank wants is a signed form, on file with the bank, making you the payable on death beneficiary. When he dies, you'll own the account. It's that simple. But if you go down there with a note, they'll just look at you with googly eyes and tell you to go away.Tell your Dad that the bank needs him to go down there and fill out their POD form. Nothing else will do. Life is way too short to argue with banks about much of anything.