When Disputes Arise Over Financial Accounts That Belonged To A Deceased Loved One
Part of the job of an executor (personal representative) and/or a trustee is to transfer assets in the deceased person’s financial accounts appropriately. A will or trust may specify where financial assets should go or the ownership terms of the accounts may determine the new ownership of those funds. Sometimes legal claims from creditors or business partners have an impact on the distribution. Funds should then go to the correct beneficiaries, heirs, creditors or business partners.
Executors and trustees often worry about unintentionally mishandling funds or being falsely accused of doing so. At Forgione Law, attorney Brandon Forgione guides fiduciaries such as executors and trustees through the necessary legal processes. At the same time, he helps ensure that his clients are safe from legal trouble or false accusations.
About Liquid Estate Assets After A Death
A decedent’s liquid assets are typically held in one or more financial accounts, such as a depository account (for example, a checking or savings account), brokerage account (such as a stock account) or retirement account (such as a 401[k] account).
Financial accounts of these types are often distributed outside of probate, meaning that the terms of the decedent’s will or trust do not control who gets the financial account when the account holder passes. Rather, the account is frequently distributed pursuant to a beneficiary designation (also called a “transfer-on-death,” “pay-on-death,” “TOD,” or “POD” designation) on file at the institution where the account is held.
Another way that ownership is understood is through the rights of “survivorship,” which happens when the account is titled in such a way that the “survivor” of the account holders obtains the entire account.
Ideally, estate planning and clear documentation should have established the ultimate distribution of someone’s financial accounts after they die. Unfortunately, there are often reasons for doubt and confusion, especially when changes were made to such accounts.
Ways In Which Disputes Arise Over Accounts
Alleged changes to beneficiary designations and the titling of accounts are subject to many of the same legal challenges as wills and trusts. Someone who wants access to the funds may claim that the decedent had a lack of capacity and undue influence when accounts were titled as they were.
A beneficiary designation or account change made pursuant to a power of attorney can also be invalidated if, for example, a judge is persuaded that the power of attorney did not allow for such changes or the agent was not acting solely in the interests of the principal. (The agent is the person with power of attorney; the principal is the person who established the power of attorney).
When there are doubts leading to legal challenges over financial accounts’ distribution, legal counsel and representation are essential. No matter which side of the dispute you are on, you deserve to know your rights and how to protect yourself from lawsuits.
Get Advice On How To Approach A Dispute Over Finances Of The Deceased
At Forgione Law, you will find an attorney with experience resolving financial account complexities and other estate-related disputes.