POD means payable on death. TOD means time on death. These are dangerous designations usually made with a broker or other asset holder and they trump the terms of your Last Will and Testament. Here in our estate practice, we find that these designations create more problems than they solve.
For instance, if all of the liquid assets of an estate pass by POD or TOD, then where is the money to pay the last expenses of the estate such as funeral, hospital, accounting, taxes and legal? What if the TOD and POD designations are not consistent with the intentions of the deceased or inconsistent with the Last Will and Testament? Under what circumstances did the POD and/or TOD get signed? Was the account holder under undue influence? Did the account holder fully understand the consequences of these forms? Afterall, unlike a Last Will and Testament, there are no witnesses and no notaries.
We are cautious indeed in suggesting that our clients execute POD and TOD forms and if so, only after comprehensive review with their estate lawyer.