Payable-on-death (POD) accounts can be a quick, simple and inexpensive way to transfer assets outside of probate. They can be used for bank or credit union accounts, certificates of deposit and even brokerage accounts. Setting up such an account is as easy as providing the financial institution with a signed POD beneficiary designation form. Upon your death, your beneficiaries just need to present identification to the bank, with a certified copy of a death certificate, and the money or securities will be theirs.

Be aware that POD accounts can backfire unless they’ve been coordinated carefully with your estate plan. For example, suppose Jack divides his assets equally among his three children in his will. He also sets up a POD account leaving $50,000 to his oldest child. That creates a conflict that may have to be resolved in court.

Another potential problem with POD accounts is that if you use them for most of your assets, the remaining assets may be insufficient to pay debts, taxes or other expenses. One way to bypass this problem is to use a POD account to hold a modest amount of funds to pay for pressing needs while your estate is administered.