One of the easiest ways to avoid probate in Illinois is to not leave behind anything that needs to go through that process. Essentially, this means having all your assets set up to automatically transfer to another person upon your death. Many people use trusts or have joint ownership of an asset. If you have a spouse, assets typically go directly to him or her when you die. However, you may have other situations with assets where these things cannot apply. In those cases, you may consider a payable on death account.

According to the Illinois General Assembly, a payable on death account is when two or more people jointly own an account and sign an agreement that states upon the death of the last owner, the account transfers to designated beneficiaries. For example, you and your business partner own a savings account and you sign a payable on death document with the bank. You both name beneficiaries. Your partner dies first. When you die, the account transfers to the beneficiaries you named.

You sign and create this type of document with your financial institution. You can name any beneficiaries you want. You do not have to let the other owner know who you name. If you wish to change them, you may do that also without the other owner’s consent. While you share the account, you also both have the right to withdraw or deposit money into it without needing the approval of the other person.

When the last one of you dies, the named beneficiaries take ownership and the payable on death agreement ends. If you name multiple beneficiaries, they share the account equally. This information is for education and is not legal advice.