Right of Survivorship, Minnesota Statute 524.6-204

A common problem in estate planning is the conflict of what is in a Will versus what is in a pay on death (P.O.D.) or beneficiary designation account.  Pay attention, this comes up a great deal and is a big problem.

As a hypothetical, imagine a case where a lawyer is drafting a Will for a now deceased person.  At the time of drafting, the person wanted to disinherited a child.  At the time, the person was very adamant about the disinheritance.  Also imagine that, after the Wills were drafted, the deceased met with a financial advisor.  The person filled out standard intake information at the financial advisors office.  This is what is important:  the person checked a box that said the person’s estate was to go to the person’s children.  Sometimes this is called a “per stirpes designation.

What controls the Right of Survivoship?

In the instance above, the answer is:  “it depends”.  Wait, I thought you made a Will to show what you wanted done with your estate plan when you die.  It should be simple.  Well, unfortunately, it is not simple.

Minnesota Statute 424.6-204

When you have a conflict between a Will and POD designations on an account, what do you do?  Minnesota Statute 524.6-204 does give us some guidance on this issue.  In pertinent part, the statute tells us that:

(a) Sums remaining on deposit at the death of a party to a joint account belong to the surviving party or
parties as against the estate of the decedent unless: (1) there is clear and convincing evidence of a different
intention; or (2) there is a different disposition made by a valid will specifically referring to such account,
as provided in this section. If there are two or more surviving parties, their respective ownerships during
lifetime shall be in proportion to their previous ownership interests under section 524.6-203 augmented by
an equal share for each survivor of any interest the decedent may have owned in the account immediately
before death; and the right of survivorship continues between the surviving parties. The interest so determined
is also the interest disposable by will.

As you can see above in the statute, when there is a conflict between a Will and a POD account, the law requires:

(1) there is clear and convincing evidence of a different
intention; or

(2) there is a different disposition made by a valid will specifically referring to such account,
as provided in this section

Obviously, it will take clear and convincing evidence of a different intent on the part of the deceased person or, second, language in the Will that specifically refers to the account at issue.  The problem arises, as described in the hypothetical, where a person made a Will before making the POD designations on the account.  In this instance, the deceased person’s estate would need to show, by clear and convincing evdience that the decedent had a different intent about what to do with his/her property than what was on the POD account.

Right of Survivorship Lawyers

The lawyers at Flanders Law Firm LLC have dealt with multiple right of survivorship cases like the one described above.  In both cases, it is important to have a lawyer that can properly draft a Will and litigate any fights about who gets the estate.  POD designations must not be ignored and must always be considered when doing any estate planning.  Ignore the right of survivorship issue at your own peril.

To learn more from an experienced probate attorney, call today at 612-424-0398.

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