Inheriting US Savings Bonds

Wednesday, September 8th, 2004
Categorized as: Inheriting and bequeathing US Savings Bonds

When a Savings Bond is registered to a person who is deceased, how does the executor of the estate for the deceased person have the bond transfered to another name? Also, we have bonds issued to John Doe OR Mary Doe. Both John and Mary are deceased.

Tom’s response

When both co-owners are deceased, the Savings Bond belongs to the estate of the person who died last.

The executor of the estate will have to send in a form to handle the transfer. Which form depends on the Series of the Savings Bonds, the amount, whether the bonds will be reissued or redeemed, and whether the estate is still open or has been closed.

There are also issues related to whether the income tax on the bonds should be paid on the final return of the former owners, or whether the deferred interest should be passed on to the new owners.

My book, Savings Bond Advisor, has a complete discussion of the issues related to inheriting Savings Bonds.

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29 Comments

On November 28th, 2008 Corey said:

I have some series E bonds that are in my grandmothers and grandfathers names as well as my uncles name. Some have my grandmother and uncles names, others have my grandfather and uncles name on them. Both of my grandparents died over 20 years ago and my father kept the bonds to give to my uncle, which he never did. My father passed away this August, my uncle died this last year. My uncle does not have any relatives, was not married and does not have any children. I am my fathers POA/Executor of his Estate. I need to know if the bonds can be cashed by me for the estate or if I should cash them personally. I am the oldest living perosn in my family and there is no one other than me that would qualify as being the owner of the bonds. All are fully matured and are doing nothing but losing money. Also, my fathers estate is still open, while my uncles was closed out when he died. My uncle did not have anything of real value and the State of California disposed of everything that I know of.

On December 1st, 2008 Tom Adams said:

Corey – if I understand you, none of these bonds have your father’s name on them, they all have your uncle’s name, your uncle died after both of your grandparents, and your uncle’s estate is closed.

Is there paperwork from your uncle’s estate giving the bonds to your father? Although your father had possession of the bonds, since his name wasn’t on them, if he didn’t officially inherit them when your uncle’s estate was handled, I would say he never owned them in a legal sense. If that’s the case, the bonds wouldn’t even be a part of his estate.

This makes your situation quite complicated. Before cashing the bonds, the Treasury will want to review the paperwork from your uncle’s estate to determine who the rightful heirs are. What you need to do (and what you can do) depends on what that paperwork says.

Tom Adams

On December 6th, 2008 Melissa said:

I am trying to find out about some savings bonds from 3 of my relatives that passed away. My aunt died in November 2007. Previous to her passing her husband died about 10 years prior to her. She also had a son that passed prior to her. My uncle & cousin (her son) sucession was closed and my aunt received everything. We have recently closed her sucession and all of her additional assets were left to me & my sisters. I am the exetrex of her estate and have death certificate on all 3 people. We have recently got a hold of a safety deposit box that she had. The box was flodded in Hurricane Katrina. We went through what we could but it was a big mess. While going through we find the corners of something that looked like savings bonds. I am wanting to find out what I need to do to find out if and how much did they have in savings bonds. Please help me so I can know where to start the hunt.

On December 8th, 2008 Tom Adams said:

Melissa – follow the standard procedure for claiming lost savings bonds, but include a letter with the form explaining your situation along with copies of the three death certificates.

Tom Adams

On December 13th, 2008 jackie bellotti said:

My Mother died 1992 my Dad in 1995 my brother died in 1982. i am the only one left. I have death certificates for all My Mother had three 500 dollar series EE bonds in her name what can i do with these? They are just sitting in my drawer. thank you for any help. jackie bellotti

On December 15th, 2008 Tom Adams said:

Jackie – When your parents died, did a probate court decide how their assets were to be distributed among the heirs? If so, it gets complicated. If not, you’ll find this form helpful.

Tom Adams

On December 15th, 2008 Brent said:

My husband as well as three siblings inherited e bonds on the death of there mother she had purchased them in her name and they were POD to each child. When we cashed them in we found that they had increased in value due to interest paid. How do they determine the taxes we will have to pay and what is that percentage if you know or how can we find out how this will effect us at tax time.

On December 16th, 2008 Tom Adams said:

Brent – you and the IRS will receive a tax form called a 1099-INT that will tell you how much interest you earned. You add that to your tax return. The percentage you have to pay depends on how much other income you have. There’s more info here.

Tom Adams

On January 2nd, 2009 sarah said:

my uncle had saving bond in his name and my grandmothers name, they both passses away, he is married. Do the bonds go to his wife. they had no children or to the heirs of my grandmother and him.

On January 2nd, 2009 Tom Adams said:

Sarah – The bonds go to the heirs of the person who died last. For example, if your grandmother died first, that had the legal effect of taking her name off the bonds and he became sole owner. Thus when he died the bonds belonged to his heirs only. Likewise, if he died first, your grandmother became sold owner and the bonds now belong to your grandmother’s heirs.

Tom Adams

On January 6th, 2009 dominick said:

I found 8 old saving bonds in one of my investment properties. The saving bonds are 1000.00 each and were issued in 1979. Should I take them back to the bank or send them to the federal reserve bank? Not sure what to do with them.

On January 6th, 2009 Tom Adams said:

Dominick – the bonds are worth about over $32,000, so it might be worth your time to try to find the owners. You can’t cash them yourself. There’s more info here.

Tom Adams

On January 9th, 2009 David Horton said:

My aunt passed away 2 years ago and I was left a box which was my grandparent’s catch all with photos and other stuff. While going through it I found a $25.00 US Series E war bond issued in 1942 and matured in 1948 along with a letter as to repayment as to money borrowed.The bond is in the name of a someone I’ve never heard of who lives in a town near where they lived. The bond is signed on the back by the owner and is witnessed by a certifying officer stamp and assistant postmaster signature. I was wondering if I could redeem it since it is signed?

On January 11th, 2009 Joe said:

My grandmother recently passed away and my grandfather is co-owner on some 10,000 and 1,000 bonds. He has given me POA for his finances, which I am trying to get in order.

There will be 6 beneficiaries when he passes away.

We would like to avoid probate by reissuing the bonds POD to me, but I don’t want to be responsible for all the taxes on the bonds.

Is the only alternative to set up a revocable living trust and have the trust be the POD beneficiary of the bonds (and, presumably, the trustee (me) will pay the taxes)?

On January 12th, 2009 Tom Adams said:

David – I doubt you can cash it, but it’s very unusual to have a bond that’s signed with a certifying officer stamp on it. I recommend you Ask the Treasury what your options are.

Joe – You can also have the bonds split up into smaller denominations and registered with your grandfather as owner and each beneficiary listed on one-sixth of the bonds. These denominations don’t split evenly into six, so someone will get less than the others, but make that up with the money you would have spent setting up a trust.

Tom Adams

On January 18th, 2009 Brian M Byrwa said:

My Maiden Aunt passed away last year. She gave me power of attorney while she was alive and made me executor of her will also. I found some Series E bonds,1978, with her name on them and a past co-workers son. The bonds are listed as or. I can’t find this person, and I’m note sure if I can cash these bonds in. I have her death certificate as well.

On January 19th, 2009 Tom Adams said:

Brian – unless you can show that the co-worker’s son died before your aunt did (and you’s need the death certificates of both to show that), the bonds now belong to the co-worker’s son. If you can’t find him, see this post.

Tom Adams

On January 19th, 2009 Donna said:

I received a savings bond after my grandmother passed away. An E Series. It was mailed to me with her Death Certificate by my cousin. Unfortunately, I’m in Australia and would like to cash this bond. I know that I need to present the Death Cert. when cashing it which means I need to be present. The bond has reached its full maturity.

I won’t be returning to the states as I’m applying for my residency here in Australia. Couple of questions?

Can I cash the bond here? And Where? Will I get full amount?

or

Can I send the bond to my mother along with the Death Certificate and have it deposited into my “still active” bank account in the states?

On January 20th, 2009 Tom Adams said:

Donna – for the international aspects of your question, see this post.

However, unless your name is on the bond along with your grandmother’s, you still can’t cash the bond. You also need the paperwork from the probate court that awarded the bond to you. If there was no probate court involvement, this form can be used to cash the bond by your grandmother’s heirs.

Tom Adams

On January 21st, 2009 Les said:

My father had been getting bonds from his employer since I was born. The bonds were in both his and my name. The bonds were cashed in after I had turned 21 by my father. With my name on the bonds did he require my signature? If so, whom should I contact about this?

On January 21st, 2009 Tom Adams said:

Les – if there was POD (payable on death) between your names, you had no legal rights to the bonds unless your father died.

If there was OR between your names, you were co-owners. However, either co-owner can cash the bonds without the knowledge or permission of the other.

Tom Adams

On January 31st, 2009 Debra M Boston said:

I was the POA for my dad’s estate. My sister died in September 2008. My dad had me cash the bonds that were in her name and his and give the money to her son. My dad died in October 2008. I have received a 1099 for the interest. Does this go on my taxes??

On February 2nd, 2009 Tom Adams said:

Hi Debra – Since your name wasn’t on the bonds, you shouldn’t have been able to cash them unless you were acting as your father’s representative using a Power of Attorney or other legal document. And in that case the 1099 should have been issued in your father’s SSN, not yours. So legally the income should go on your father’s final return. But you got the 1099.

There’s a way to deal with this, but unless moving the tax from you to him is going to save enough to pay for the tax advice on how to do it, it’s probably not worth it. If it is worth it, my book has the details on how to do it.

Tom Adams

On March 30th, 2009 Martha Quinn said:

My father passed away in December, 2008 and my mother passed away in 2000. His safe deposit box has multiple bonds in it. They are all in his name only. I have been appointed personal representative of his estate.

My question is, what is the correct form to fill out to only have the name changed on the bonds and not to be cashed in (I have been told that they are the older bonds that will continue to accrue interest versus only reaching face value).

On March 31st, 2009 Tom Adams said:

Martha – This is a complicated situation and how you handle it can save or cost you real money. It’s worth investing a little time in doing it correctly. You should spend a weekend reading my book. It will guide you through the options you have in terms of reissuing the bonds and what documentation you will need. There are tax implications depending on the choices you make. The age of the bonds can also make a difference in finding your best option.

Tom Adams

On July 14th, 2009 Eric M said:

My wife’s grandfather passed away in January, her mother about 2 years ago. His name appears first on the bond, with pod to my wife’s mother. The paper certificates were given to my wife to redeem? What documentation is required for my wife to redeem these mature savings bonds?

On July 15th, 2009 Tom Adams said:

Eric – This seems like such a simple question, but it’s not. It depends on the value of the bond, whether your wife’s grandfather’s estate was handled by a probate court or not, and other factors. For example, if there is probate court involvement, the executor of the estate needs to handle this, not your wife. If there was no probate court involvement, your wife can probably use this form, although if the value of the bonds is more than $10,000, it will be worth it to her to spend a weekend reading my book.

Tom Adams

On May 12th, 2010 Fran said:

my dad died left EE bonds with his name and my name on them being taken to probate because grand children of deceased child feel they should get a share of bonds?

On May 13th, 2010 Tom Adams said:

Fran – If your name is on the bonds, they are legally yours and not part of the estate for probate purposes (they are part of the estate for estate tax purposes). The probate court will recognize that.

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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