In Utah there are several legal mechanisms whereby title to assets can pass at death without involving the probate process. For example, assets may be held in trust or joint tenancy, be subject to a written “pay on death” (POD) or “transfer on death” (TOD) directive, or may be subject to a written designation of beneficiaries.
Some of those mechanisms can be helpful and appropriate (or even legally required) in some instances, but can lead to unanticipated problems in others. Careful attention to forms of ownership and beneficiary designations is critical.
We feel strongly that beneficiary designation forms and POD/TOD cards not be completed and signed without first consulting legal counsel. The following commonly use these mechanisms:
- bank accounts
- brokerage/investment accounts
- life insurance policies
- pension plans
- 401(k) accounts