The account’s type of ownership is a major factor. Joint Ownership with Right to Survivorship accounts stay open in the surviving spouse’s name. If the account is only in your spouse’s name and appointed payable-on-death, the bank gives the funds to the named beneficiary. Accounts that don’t have a spouse named as a joint owner or beneficiary go through probate to figure out next-of-kin ownership. Prepare for these situations before they happen. Talk about account ownership options with your bank, legal counsel, and family.
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