How to update Savings Bond registrations when a co-owner dies

Friday, October 8th, 2004
Categorized as: Inheriting and bequeathing US Savings BondsSavings Bond registration changes

My husband was co-owner on my Savings Bonds. He has passed away. How do I get the beneficiary changed?

Tom’s response

When a registrant listed on a Savings Bond dies, the surviving registrant can have the registration updated by submitting Public Debt Form 4000 and a copy of the decedent’s death certificate. The form includes complete instructions.

In this situation updating the registration never creates a taxable event.

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27 Comments

On January 19th, 2010 Mary Cassar said:

When my husband was working he had a saving bond taking out of his paycheck every week, and my name (his wife)is also on the bond. Now we would like to put our children’s name (we have three)in our family trust. I will appreciate very much if you can tell me what to do. Both me and my husband are up in years and we both like to take care of it now. ThankYou Mary Cassar

On January 20th, 2010 Tom Adams said:

Mary – Go here if you want to reissue the bonds to a trust.

Using the trust would simplify issues related to splitting the bonds evenly and to taxes.

Tom Adams

On February 3rd, 2010 Robynn Yim said:

When the owner of a savings bond dies, does the bond automatically become the property of the co-owner or is it part of the owner’s estate? Thanks for your help.

On February 4th, 2010 Tom Adams said:

Robynn – if the Savings Bond names a co-owner or POD (beneficiary), then it goes directly to the named person and not to the estate.

Tom Adams

On February 6th, 2010 sylvia said:

When both owner and co-owner of savings bond die and i was sole benefactor to life insurance and retirement. There was no estate or legal guardian. what should i do with the savings bond left in my possesion. Can they be changed to my name or should i turn them back?

On February 8th, 2010 Tom Adams said:
On February 15th, 2010 Paula Davantzis said:

My husband passed away. He and I are co-owners of several savings bonds. How can my heirs (children)redeem these bonds as they become due if I have passed away.

On February 15th, 2010 Tom Adams said:

Paula – I’m sorry to hear about your husband. You can use the information at the top of this page to make your children co-owners with of the bonds with you (one child per bond).

If the bonds are worth more than $10,000, however, I recommend that you spend a weekend reading my book, because there are lots of issues here you haven’t considered yet.

Tom Adams

On February 18th, 2010 Roberta Tatulli said:

My Dad passed away the end of November. He had several U.S. savings bonds with his name and SS # listed as the primary and then divided them with some co-listing myself, my mother and my brother as the secondary. They have not matured yet and we would like to continue them until maturity with my Mom receiving the proceeds. How do we best change the ownership of these bonds without liquidating them prematurely and allowing my mother to to have these as part of her inheritance of my Dad’s estate?
Thank you

On February 18th, 2010 Tom Adams said:

Roberta – All the different co-owners/beneficiaries should have their bonds re-registered making themselves owner and your mother co-owner.

Then give the bonds to your mother and she can cash them as she needs them. If she dies before she cashes them, then give them back to the named owners.

Tom Adams

On February 19th, 2010 Stacey said:

My uncle recently passed away with several savings bonds in his name and his grand daughters name. His granddaughter is still a minor. We received a 1099 for interest on the bonds in 2009. Will we have to file an estate tax return next year for 2010 interest? We would like to avoid that if possible. Is it possible to change the name on the bonds from my uncle’s name to my aunt’s name? Thanks for your help.

On February 22nd, 2010 Tom Adams said:

Stacey – the bonds now belong to the granddaughter, not to the estate.

If you’ve received a 1099, then these must be Series H or HH bonds. See my HH bond overview and post on changing the SSN on HH bonds.

Tom Adams

On February 27th, 2010 Debbie said:

Grandfather had EE bonds w/aunt named as POD…after his death she added grandchildren as co-owners…upon cashing who would owe the taxes? Neither the aunt or the grandchildren purchased the bonds with their own money.

On March 1st, 2010 Tom Adams said:

Debbie – as a practical matter, the 1099-INT will be issued to the Social Security Number of the person who cashes the bonds.

Tom Adams

On March 1st, 2010 Jan said:

My Mother recently passed away and my older brother is named as Executor of her Will. He has informed me that there are I & EE bonds that have her name and mine on them. The bonds say her name OR my name. He says that my Dad “wants” me to cash them and divide up the amount between him and my younger brother. Her Will clearly states that bonds are not to be claimed by the Executor as part of her estate. Aren’t these bonds mine? Dad is the beneficiary of her estate, but since these are not part of it can I do as I wish with them? The bank tells me that they are mine and if physically can’t get possession I have to show death certificate and fill out form stating don’t actually have them in hand in order to cash or reissue. Is that right?

I honestly don’t know if my brother has them in his possession or Dad has – due to this family conflict I have been cut off from all matters with the family and my brother is moving my Dad out of state next week.

On March 2nd, 2010 Tom Adams said:

Jan – as a legal matter, the bonds belong to you. What the bank told you is basically correct although more difficult than they imply. That’s because the person who had the bonds last must also sign the form.

As a family matter, many people think the relationships are more important than the money and wouldn’t hesitate to share it. Even that is complicated, however, because you’re the one who will owe the income tax on the interest. If you do split the money, make sure you hold back what you’ll need for taxes before making the split.

Tom Adams

On March 2nd, 2010 Jan Snavely said:

I have EE bonds issued in my name with my grandson listed as POD. He is 21, deaf, and in college and desperately needs cash right now. Is there anyway I can transfer the bonds in his name or be cashed for educational purposes without paying interest? Thank you.

On March 3rd, 2010 Tom Adams said:

Jan – you can change your grandson to a co-owner. If he cashes the bond, the 1099 will be issued to him. However, the IRS says it’s still you who owes the tax.

Your best and fasted best is to cash the bond, hold back what you need for taxes, and give him the rest.

Tom Adams

On March 3rd, 2010 Sandra said:

My mother recently passed away and we have found savings bonds that have my mother as the owner and payable on death to the oldest child. The child does not want to accept these bonds and would like to reject them and give them back to our mother’s estate. What form can we take to the bank to accomplish this?

On March 4th, 2010 Gerald Hergenreder said:

MY Mother has several bonds that I am co-owner and with my SS number on them. My brother and I want to change half of these to his SS number and name him as co-owner. Can this be done?

On March 4th, 2010 Tom Adams said:

Sandra – there is no form for that because you can’t do it. The bonds now belong to the oldest child. That person should cash the bonds, hold back what is needed for income tax on the interest earned, and distribute the rest to the estate.

Gerald – Your mother can do it using this form.

Tom Adams

On March 15th, 2010 Al said:

My mother left us her savings bonds ($50 EE bonds)–an equal number to each of her three sons. My father–deceased–is initial owner, and my mother–recently deceased–is the second name on the bonds. Can we simply redeem them at the bank using her death certificate and proper ID?

On March 16th, 2010 Tom Adams said:

Al – No, that won’t work. You have to provide paperwork from the court that probated your mother’s will and a special form. If your mother’s will wasn’t probated, there’s a different form. Details are in my book.

Tom Adams

On March 17th, 2010 Joe said:

Tom,

Thanks, I am going to read your book to get a better understanding, but is it possible to have a bond re-issued upon death to a differnt generation or is that a taxable event?

For exaple, Mother daughter co own bonds with mother as primary SS#. Mother dies. Husband/Father is still alive. Daughter wants to have bonds re-issued to have Her and Her husband or brother be co- owners.

On March 17th, 2010 Tom Adams said:

Joe – In your example, the daughter is now the sole owner of the bonds and can add a co-owner without creating a taxable event.

Tom Adams

On May 11th, 2010 Deb D said:

Primary owner of savings bonds deceased in 2001. Named Beneficiary, recently deceased in 2010. Most of the assets are under a proper trust title except these. No living person is accurately named on the bonds currently. These old savings bonds were listed in a Schedule A on a trust, however, no detail to Bond Number or other details. Just a high level listing decribing the bond “type” such as E series.

**Do these bonds fall into probate arena if not clearly “itemized” in the trust?**

General influence is these must now go thru probate and subject to statutory lawyer fees in addition to the tax hit… if cashed. Does this sound accurate? Concern is lawyer may be swaying influence to trigger an unnecessary probate. This issue, bonds, is the only thing that might trigger a probate.

On May 11th, 2010 Tom Adams said:

Deb – To be in the trust, the bonds would have to be registered to the trust. They’re not. They belong to the estate of the person who died last, the beneficiary in this case. There’s more info 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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