Even if you have only one child, if you have no will, things will be complicated for her or him. You may wonder if you can simplify matters, just by creating a POD account with their name as the person to inherit the account when you die. However, what if you have other property, like a car, a tax or credit card refund, or any other asset that is not part of that account? Yes, that property will pass to the sole child by intestacy. However, having a will could make it far easier for your child.
nj.com’s recent article asks “Do I really need a will to help my son when I die?” The article explains that by naming your only child as the beneficiary on a POD or Transfer on Death (TOD) account, that move only governs the transfer of that particular account at your death.
For items like an automobile, your child may need to be appointed as an administrator by the surrogate or probate judge to transfer the property.
A person named as administrator of an estate under intestacy (where there’s no will) generally must post a bond based on the value of the estate’s assets.
Getting a bond can be difficult, depending on the administrator’s credit history, employment and their own assets. While a bond isn’t required for small estates (e.g., New Jersey estates not exceeding $50,000, if passing to a spouse and $20,000, if passing to someone other than a spouse) to qualify as administrator of a small estate, the assets must be specifically identified.
This is sometimes frustrating because financial institutions won’t provide information on accounts until after the administrator is appointed. However, a properly prepared will controls the disposition of all your property not otherwise disposed of by beneficiary designation or joint ownership with rights of survivorship.
A will also names the executor. This person is responsible for administering your estate, allowing third parties to release information to your executor who must collect your assets, pay any of your creditors and take care of the distribution of your property in accordance with your will. In addition, your will generally waives the bond which would otherwise be required by the surrogate.
No matter how simple you may think your estate is, you do need a will if you wish to spare your family from having to go through a longer, more stressful and more expensive process. An estate planning attorney will be able to help you create a plan for your assets and your heir that will work smoothly and keep things simple.
Reference: nj.com (July 3, 2019) “Do I really need a will to help my son when I die?”