Wills and Trusts


If you have any assets, you already have an estate!

Estate planning can encompass a wide range of legal issues, family and social matters, as well as healthcare planning concerns. Not to mention the complexity and emotion that comes with it. Our attorney provides an understanding personal service to ease each client’s apprehension. Nymeo offers both basic and comprehensive services to all members.

Nymeo would like to advise our Members from time to time about various legal issues that may impact your Nymeo account. The information we are providing today is a Q & A that provides Members with an understanding of the different forms of Account Ownership.

Q: What are the most common forms of ownership for credit union accounts?

A: The most common forms are:
1) Individual account
2) Payable-on-death account
3) Joint account with rights of survivorship

Q: Why is the form of ownership of a bank account important?

A: The form of ownership affects who has access to the account while the account owners are living, and who receives the proceeds of the account upon an account owner’s death.

Q: Now, I assume that an account that I simply have in my name alone is an individual account.

A: That’s right. An individual account is in the sole name of the account owner and the account owner is the only person that has access to the account during his or her lifetime. Upon the account owner’s death, the proceeds of the account can become part of the account owner’s probate estate and will pass according to the terms of his or her will. If the account owner dies without leaving a will, we call this having an “intestate” estate, the proceeds of the account will generally pass to the account owner’s next of kin as determined under Maryland’s law of intestate succession.  The individual member can also designate a payable-on-death (POD) beneficiary on the account, this is described below.

Q: How does a “payable-on-death” account work?

A: A payable-on-death, also referred to as a POD is simply an individual account with a twist. It avoids probate. The account owner designates one or more beneficiaries who are to receive the proceeds of the account upon the account owner’s death. The beneficiaries of the account have no rights in the account until the account owner’s death and the account owner may change the beneficiaries of the account at anytime. However, upon the account owner’s death, the proceeds pass directly to the beneficiaries designated by the account owner and are not subject to probate.

Q: How does a joint account with rights of survivorship work?

A: It is an account in the name of more than one person. Each person named on the account has access to the account and may make deposits or withdrawals at any time.  Any joint owner has access to all of the funds, and any owner can withdraw all of the funds on deposit in a joint account. Upon the death of one of the joint owners, the balance of the account passes directly to the surviving joint owner and is not subject to probate or distribution from an estate.

Q: What is the most common problem you encounter with respect to ownership of bank accounts?

A: The most common problem is having the proceeds of an account payable to an unintended beneficiary. For example, a widow intends to leave all of her assets equally to her three children and has a will directing just that. When her health deteriorates, the widow sets up a joint account with rights of survivorship with her son because she wants her son to have access to the account to pay her bills if she cannot do so. Upon the widow’s death, the bank account passes directly to the son whose name is on the account, not equally to the three children as directed in the widow’s will. To avoid this result, rather than set-up a joint account with rights of survivorship, the widow could have executed a power of attorney giving the son access to her bank accounts.

This information was provided by Douglas K. Thornton, an attorney who performs estate planning and estate related services through Nymeo Wills and Trust, LLC.  If you have questions about your account ownership designations, or if you would like a no cost initial consultation do discuss estate-related matters, feel free to contact Doug at 301-662-8114.

This article is intended to provide broad, general information about the law. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.

Your first meeting on estate planning may seem a little daunting! There’s no need to worry, however. This meeting is just a conversation with our attorney to learn about you and your needs! Estate planning consultations are available to all Nymeo members free of charge, and is designed to customize a plan that fits YOUR life.

A Will is the most important legal document in your estate plan. Wills allow you to control the asset distribution plan, or perhaps you are concerned with naming a guardian for minor children. Whatever is most important to you, a Will ensures it will happen!

A power of attorney is a written authorization to act on another’s behalf. Whether private, business, or health affairs, or perhaps some other legal matter, a power of attorney is a necessary element of everyone’s estate plan!

It is often believed that if a Will is in place a Trust is not necessary. This is not true! A trust is a tool to disburse your assets that will provide efficient, faster, and less costly distribution of your assets. There are various types of Trusts available, which would fit your needs the best?

Our attorney can provide advice on proper designation of beneficiary forms, payable on death designation forms, life insurance, gifting issues, an address planning for special needs children.

Law office of Douglas K. Thornton, LLC.

Douglas K. Thornton, Esquire
5210 Chairmans Court, Suite 2
Frederick, MD 21703
Telephone (301) 662-8114 Ext. 14
Fax (301) 662-8116

To schedule an appointment, please contact Mr. Thornton's Legal Assistant:
Lynn Drenner
(301) 662-8114 Ext. 16

Nymeo Wills and Trust, LLC.