I am 65 and I may die soon from health issues. I do not have any estate or assets except my Social Security deposits that just started in January and an IRA I will be opening tomorrow at my bank, Capital One. I want to "not" have any beneficiary listed for my bank accounts and the IRA, , but I do want my wife to have those accounts in full when I die, "if we are still married" when I die. Can't she just go to the bank and show them our marriage license and my death certificate and then have everything handed over to her? That is what I want to happen. I live in Rockville, MD. I do not have any will since I have no assets except these bank accounts.
1 Answer from Attorneys
If your non-IRA accounts are in your name only when you die, an estate, presumably a small estate unless there is more than $50000 in your accounts ($100000 if you have no children or other heirs), will have to be put through probate. If your wife is a joint account holder, she would automatically become sole owner of the accounts upon your death and they would not go through probate. Your IRA account would automatically go to a designated beneficiary, but would be subject to probate if you don't designate one. If you have no children, grandchildren or parents, your wife would end up with 100% of your estate (after expenses). If there are any of the following: grandchildren, adult children or parents, she would get $15,000 plus half the rest. If there is a surviving minor (-18) child, your wife gets half. So if your family situation is such that she would not get everything, you should either redesignate your accounts or have an attorney draw up a simple will leaving everything to her if she survives you. This can be accomplished quickly and inexpensively.