My father in CA passed away and listed my two children (one 19 the other 13) in NV as beneficiaries on two accounts (one a savings the other a retirement). What are my options if any to change this as indicated? I'm concerned that the monies will not be used wisely and can negatively affect their futures. I also think that these should have been left for me, and in turn I would then do the same with my accounts for them, where at a later date they would be older and can better manage such a thing. Please provide any legal remedies, thank you.
1 Answer from Attorneys
Your question actually prompts several more questions. First, the reason your father chose to bypass you and leave assets directly to his grandchildren must be examined. If he did not feel you needed the money or did not trust you to spend it on your children, he may have set the accounts up this way to avoid such issues. By naming the minor children (although the older one is now a legal adult), he may have wished to ensure you did not have complete control of the assets, but would hold them in trust for your kids until they became adults and could take the bequests.
You cannot change the designations your father made on the accounts. No bank would now allow such an amendment to be made, except via a court order. That would require a probate proceeding in which you would have to argue something like mental incompetency of your father when the accounts were established and/or configured.
You may be right to be concerned that the money will not be prudently spent/invested by youngsters, but it is their money. The older child is, as noted, an adult and likely is entitled to make his/her claim on the account that is now his/her property. Usually, the younger one can make such claim immediately upon turning 18. All this assumes, of course, that your father did not specify for the accounts a different age of "adulthood" for his grandchildren. As the younger child's legal guardian, you would have responsibility for managing the account until he/she reaches adulthood, but you could not (under most circumstances) spend the money on anything that is not directly, personally for the benefit of that child.
It may be to your advantage to consult an attorney regarding the nature of the accounts, the beneficiary statements and arrangements for payment of the balances to the children. You should also consider connecting the older child with an investment advisor who can assist in making life plans for college, marriage, starting a business, buying a first home, or whatever other good use the money may be put.