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How does a Florida TOD account work in Florida?

Probate Information • Feb 14, 2021
post about How does a Florida TOD account work in Florida?

A Florida TOD account is supposed to transfer the account, typically a bank or financial account, to the surviving owner. If transfer on death is so “easy”, why are so many family members and executors having a probate dispute over them? The owners are generally those whose names appear on the account title. That’s why probate litigation law firms issue subpoenas under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.350 to attempt to obtain complete bank records. But, it is possible that the named beneficiary of the account does NOT inherit. To learn how a transfer on death account for a Florida bank account can go to probate or the estate, read on.

Florida TOD accounts are supposed to go to the surviving owner automatically, by operation of Florida law.

What is a Florida Convenience Account?

A Florida Convenience account is one of those things that is not what it says it is, jokes John Pankauski, Managing Partner of Pankauski Lazarus PLLC, an expert probate litigation law firm. And Pankauski should know. After all, unlike most “probate” lawyers, he has actually won bank account trials and also handles TOD and pay on death appeals. You can read more about convenience accounts at Fla. Stat. 655.80, which can cause a probate court to ignore the survivorship feature of the Florida TOD account, and give it to the estate, where it can be subject to creditors and expenses of administration. (See Fla. Stat. 733.707 for the schedule of payment of expenses of administration and creditors claims, including attorneys fees).

Florida TOD Bank Account Trials

Be cautious” warns Pankauski, about challenging an account. He points to Fla. Stat. 655.79 which sets for the burden of proof for Florida TOD accounts, and bank accounts that are POD or pay on death. “You need to know what evidence you need to challenge a Florida TOD account, and where you can get it. Once you have it, you then need to consider how you meet your burden at trial.” But, after all, that’s what you Florida TOD trial lawyer is for.