If your goal is to avoid probate, a transfer on death, or beneficiary designation will accomplish that goal.
However, if you become incapacitated and have not executed a valid power of attorney which includes the ability to access your various types of account, then no one will be able to access your accounts for your needs.
A valid power of attorney will allow the named agent to access the funds for your benefit to pay for care, rehabilitation, medical needs, etc. Conversely, the named beneficiary has no right to the funds until you have passed away and a death certificate has been issued. Issuance of a death certificate can take several days/weeks. Any costs related to your needs, including your end of life issues like burial, medical, etc. may have to be paid by someone else if your loved ones have no access to your accounts.
Alternatively, execution of a trust and titling of your assets to that trust will allow your named Successor Trustee to access your accounts when you pass away or if you should become incapacitated.
In order to cover all situations, it may be necessary to execute a power of attorney and a trust.
I talk to people every week that have hit a wall when working to assist loved ones because there are no documents in place, the documents in place are not executed properly, or do not contain the necessary language.
Seeking the counsel of an experienced Estate Planning attorney is essential. The online forms do not offer the level of customization, counseling, and expertise you receive from an attorney that meets with you in person and performs a full interview regarding your specific needs.
If you have questions or would like to meet with me please visit my website at, CJ@CjWattersLaw.com , call my office at 916-225-3570, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proper planning is a gift to your loved ones that will be one of the best gifts they will ever receive.