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Q: What happens if a bank account is given to one family member in the will but the account is POD to someone else? Who gets the account?

A: Wills generally only control probate assets. Probate assets are assets that don’t have a beneficiary designation and are solely owned by the decedent.

A bank account with a Payable on Death (POD) designation is not a probate asset. The POD designation indicates who owns the asset after death. The will should not determine ownership of a POD account.

Q: My parents are moving into assisted living and have asked me to sell their home. How can I sell the home for them? Will they have to show up for the closing?

A: It will depend on how the home is owned, but you should be able to handle the closing for your parents. What you need to do is obtain the authority to sign on behalf of owners.

If the home is owned by a trust, you should either be appointed successor trustee or agent for the trustee. If the home is owned by your parents personally, you should be appointed Attorney-In-Fact (AIF) under a Power of Attorney (POA). The POA can be a very broad General Durable POA or a more a specific Limited POA.

One potential problem is the deed transferring the property. Although the POA may grant the authority to sign the deed, title insurance companies tend to be reluctant to accept a deed signed under a POA. Indiana may recognize the validity of the deed but the title insurance company maybe unwilling to insure over it.

If you are going to use a POA to close on the property, I suggest that you obtain your parents' actual signatures on the deed. It avoids a lot of issues.

If you are unable to obtain original signatures, you might be able to sign the deed under the POA but you will likely be asked to record the POA along with the deed.

The deed may also need to include a recital acknowledging that it is signed pursuant to the authority of a POA and affirming under oath that you have the authority to sign it. The best thing to do is talk to the title insurance company as early as possible to see how they would prefer it to be done.

Thanks for the questions.

Christopher W. Yugo is an attorney in Crown Point. Chris’ Estate Planning Article appears online every Sunday at www.nwi.com. Address questions to Chris in care of The Times, 601 W. 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321 or to Chrisyugolaw@gmail.com. Chris’ information is meant to be general in nature. Specific legal, tax, or insurance questions should be referred to your attorney, accountant, or estate-planning specialist.

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