Changing a co-owner or beneficary who has died

Friday, July 23rd, 2004
Categorized as: Savings Bond registration changes

I have E and EE bonds. My spouse, who has died, is listed as co-owner on some and as beneficiary on others. I would like to change this registration to another person. Do I have to provide a death certificate?

Tom’s response

In general, the process for removing a co-owner or beneficiary who has died from a Savings Bond registration, and adding a new name if you like, is similar to any other registration change.

My article on adding a co-owner or adding/changing a beneficiary has additional information, including a link to the form you’ll need.

However, there are some cases in which you do need to provide a copy of a death certificate.

With the older Series E and H bonds, you can’t change a living beneficiary without that person’s permission, so you need to provide the death certificate of a deceased beneficary.

If the deceased person’s name is listed first on the bond and you are listed second, normally changing that first name would be a taxable event for the deceased person. Providing a death certificate will prevent that.

Otherwise, a copy of the death certificate isn’t strictly required, but if you have one it could facilitate things to include it when you send in the form.

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22 Comments

On September 2nd, 2007 LAURIE GRAY-WILHELM said:

I also have bonds with my father’s name on it who died 2/2004. Is there a form I have to fill out with a copy of his death certificate? Is there a form that I put co-beneficiaries on incase I die? I want them in the family. There’s no one to sit down with so who can give me the steps to follow?

On September 3rd, 2007 Tom Adams said:

Hi Laurie – the person to sit down with is the lawyer who handled your father’s estate. There are different forms depending on how the estate was handled.

If your lawyer doesn’t know what to do, you can suggest that the firm order a copy of my book, Savings Bond Advisor, which will tell them what they need to know to help you.

Tom Adams

On September 17th, 2007 LAURIE GRAY-WILHELM said:

We do not have a lawyer. When my father died, my mother is the co-beneficiary, so everything went to her. My brother became the “Power of Attorney” when situations came up (ex: my father’s car was going to become mine, so my brother went through the steps of how to change the name from my father’s into mine, etc). We did not deal with a lawyer.

On September 18th, 2007 Tom Adams said:

Laurie – Your mother can have the registration changed on the Savings Bonds that have only your father’s name on them. That’s because she’s the heir. The form for this is here:

http://www.treasurydirect.gov/forms/sav5336.pdf

Tom Adams

On November 14th, 2007 lamar gregory said:

i have several bonds i bought long ago and i have some with my fathers name on them and some with my mothers name on them and some with with now x-wifes name on them in addition to my name. i do not know if they are beneficeres or co-owners. how do i know if they are beneficiaries or co/oweners. my intentions were that they would be beneficieries but since i have been divorced for over 15 years and my mother and father are deceased i need to know what to do to take their names off the bonds. i am contemplating cashing the bonds in the near future since i am unemployed and have been for a long time. i would appreciate your help on what to do. thank you.

On November 15th, 2007 Tom Adams said:

Hi Lamar – The person whose name is listed first on a bond is considered the “principal owner”. If there is a second name, look at what’s in between the names.

If POD (payable on death to) is between the names, the second-named person is a beneficiary and has no rights to the bond unless you die.

If OR appears, the second-named person is a co-owner with you and can legally cash the bond without your knowledge or permission.

If you decide to change the co-owner or beneficiary, the information you need is on this page. If you decide to cash the bonds, see how to redeem a savings bond.

Tom Adams

On March 29th, 2008 Lynette Kreuger said:

I found a pile of savings bonds in an old safe-deposit box. They are in the names of my mother’s deceased husband and his brother, whom I think is also deceased. What can I do with the bonds?

On March 31st, 2008 Tom Adams said:

Lynette – “I think is also deceased” won’t get you anywhere.

If you can come up with death certificates for the co-owners, if your mother’s husband died last, if these bonds weren’t claimed as lost somewhere along the line and replaced, and if your mother’s husband didn’t have a will leaving the bonds to someone else, the bonds would belong to your mother.

So you’ll have to do a lot of legwork to get the money for your mother, but if it’s truly a “pile” it would be time well spent.

Tom Adams

On January 10th, 2009 Steve said:

Hi,

My father just passed away. I have a bunch of E and EE bonds left to me in a safe deposit box that only my father and I could access, but he never told me that he had bonds in them so I didn’t find out till I opened the box after his death. The E and EE bonds are in my grandfather and father names. Grandfather passed way over 15yrs. There is no will. How do I find if those bonds have or have no contingent beneficiaries? How do I obtain the contingent beneficiary information? Thank you!

On January 12th, 2009 Tom Adams said:

Steve – I’m not sure what you mean by contingent beneficiary. If you’re asking if there is another form somewhere naming a beneficiary, there is not. The bonds belong to your father’s estate. If he had no other assets for a probate court to examine and if the redemption value is less than $100,000, you may be able to deal with the bonds using this form.

Tom Adams

On January 15th, 2009 Linda Nelson said:

My Father and Mother are listed on a US Savings Bond as James or Marie. My Father passed aware in 1990- leaving all his assets (per his will) to my Mother. My Mother just passed away and has a living trust. The trust clearly identifies how the assets should be distributed to the beneficiaries. What do I need to provide to cash the bond into cash, in order to disbritute the funds to the beneficiaries.

On January 16th, 2009 Tom Adams said:

Linda – since the Savings Bond isn’t registered in the name of the Trust, the Trust documents are irrelevant. The lawyer who set up the Trust should have also written what’s called a pour over Will for your mother. Depending on how many assets your mother had besides the Savings Bonds that weren’t in the Trust, you may have to probate that Will.

If the value of the bond is over $10,000 you should buy a copy of my book and spend a weekend reading it. At a minimum, read my post on Savings Bonds and Trusts.

Tom Adams

On February 3rd, 2009 Paula B said:

My father left EE bonds to my daughter, he is listed as co-owner but died in 2002. He signed the bonds, as a decendent to his estate,if I show a death certifcate can I cash the bonds.It appears as my daughter`s name OR my fathers name.Does she have sign also

On February 4th, 2009 Tom Adams said:

Paula – since the bonds are registered to your daughter OR your father, and your father has died, your daughter now owns the bonds free and clear. She can cash the bonds without any other paperwork. Your father’s estate has no control over the bonds.

Tom Adams

On August 8th, 2009 ellen smith said:

I have an ederly friend that has asked me to figure out how to change the beneficary on her bonds. Are there specific forms that we can get to do this?
thanks,
ellen

On August 10th, 2009 Tom Adams said:

Ellen – the information you’re looking for is here.

Tom Adams

On November 3rd, 2009 Mike M said:

Hi, not sure if this Q&A is still active. I have several bonds in my mother’s name. She recently died and I am the executor of the estate, which is still open. I and 2 of my siblings would like to inherit the bonds without selling them. What would I do – transfer them to “The Estate of” now and again to the individuals inheriting them at the time of distribution? Thanks!

On November 4th, 2009 Tom Adams said:

Mike – Typically the transfer is directly to the heirs, not to the estate first and then to the heirs. There’s more info here.

Tom Adams

On February 4th, 2010 anna stoppenbach said:

Hi, I have 4 EE bonds in my father’s name. He has been deceased for 11 years. There are no beneficaries listed on them. How do I cash these in.

On February 5th, 2010 Tom Adams said:

Anna – Was your father’s estate handled by a probate court? These bonds are part of his estate and have to be distributed as the probate court determined. If there was no probate court involvement, you can use this form.

Tom Adams

On April 21st, 2010 eudora joyce loveless said:

hi i have 6-series ee bonds left to me by my mother pod to me. would want to make my husband co -owner, is this possible, thank you.

On April 21st, 2010 Tom Adams said:

Eudora – the information you’re looking for is here.

Tom Adams

Comments Closed

June 1, 2010

After six years, over 400 posts, 3,680 real comments, and over 90,000 spam comments (thank you, Akismet, for making managing a blog with comments possible), I am closing public comments on Savings-Bond-Advisor.com. I will contine to update the main articles on this site, but not the comments.

Virtually every question about Savings Bonds has been asked and answered on this site multiple times. Use the search feature (see the box in the gray area near the top of this page) or the detailed menu on the lower part of the home page to find the information you're looking for. If you have a copy of Savings Bond Advisor, you can ask me a question here.

Tom Adams

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