Probate attorney Los Angeles

Many types of accounts including checking and savings authorize the designation of one or more payable-on-death (POD) beneficiaries. As a result, after the death of the account owner, the designated beneficiaries receive payment of the account balance after a brief waiting period without the need to obtain a probate court order, which classifies these types of financial amounts as non-probate assets.

Due to these mechanisms, people can avoid probate by designating beneficiaries on their pay-on-death accounts. Because these POD accounts avoid probate, this article examines a creditor’s ability to reach non-probate assets to satisfy the debts of the decedent.

Pay-On-Death Bank Accounts

  • How Pay-On-Death Accounts Are Established. On applicable bank accounts where a POD designation is available, the institution will provide a form to complete, in which an individual must identify the person to inherit the account balance upon the individual’s death. Individuals must make sure to include all information on the requested forms including names and contact information. Brokerage accounts and individual securities can have POD designations added in similar ways. If necessary, beneficiaries can be changed by contacting the financial institution with whom the original paperwork was filed and the institution will then help the individual file the subsequent paperwork switching beneficiaries.
  • How Pay-On-Death Beneficiaries Receive Funds. Each financial institution has its own rules and paperwork that is required to claim the inheritance. Typically, however, POD beneficiaries must obtain a death certificate of the account owner, which must then be presented to the financial institution along with proper identification of the beneficiary before the funds in question will be released
  • How Pay-On-Death Accounts Cause Difficulties for Creditors. In addition to timely filing a creditor’s claim in the decedent’s estate, the creditor must also file a petition under Probate Code Section 9653 and show that the designation of the POD beneficiary was done with the intent to defraud creditors, under Civil Code Section 3439.05. Among other things, the creditor must prove that (1) the creditor’s claim arose before death, (2) the transfer was made by the decedent without receiving reasonably equivalent value, and (3) the transfer made the decedent insolvent, such that the assets in the probate estate are insufficient to satisfy the decedent’s debts. Even assuming the petition to recover the POD accounts is successful, the creditor must still prove the validity and enforceability of the debt.

If you have any questions about the enforceability of your creditor’s claim, how POD accounts work or other estate questions and need the help and guidance of an experienced and reputable probate attorney in Los Angeles, contact Keystone Law Group, P.C. at 310.444.9060 or visit for further information.