How to redeem or update a Savings Bond registration when you are co-owner or beneficiary of an inherited bond

Wednesday, November 9th, 2005
Categorized as: Cashing in US Savings BondsInheriting and bequeathing US Savings BondsSavings Bond registration changes

My husband has passed away and I would like to redeem some of our savings bonds and change the registration on some. I am named on the bonds as a co-owner. We have E and EE, I and HH bonds. How do I do this?

Tom’s response

When a registrant listed on a Savings Bond dies, the surviving registrant can either cash in the bond or have its registration changed.

If the bond is redeemed, income tax will be due on all the interest the bond has ever earned. If the registration is changed, on the other hand, the bond keeps its tax-deferred status and payment of taxes will continue to be pushed into the future.

If you want to redeem the bond and you are a co-owner, all you’ll need is your personal identification. If you are a beneficiary (your name has POD in front of it – payable on death), you’ll also need a certified copy of the death certificate of the bond’s owner.

See my post how to cash in a Savings Bond for the other details.

If you would prefer to keep the Savings Bond, you can update the registration by submitting the following form. The form includes complete instructions. Again, if you are the beneficiary rather than the co-owner, you’ll need to include a certified copy of the bond owner’s death certificate.

When you change a Savings Bond’s registration, you need to have your signature certified by a financial institution on the form before you send it in.

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31 Comments

On February 28th, 2008 Larry Gilbert said:

How does a citizen of the Netherlands cash US Savings Bonds without a social security number? The bonds were not part of the deceased persons will.

On February 28th, 2008 Tom Adams said:

Larry, the info you’re looking for is on my page about cashing Savings Bonds internationally.

Tom Adams

On March 19th, 2008 Tony S Grier said:

I am a legal guardian with my brother of my mother in Florida because my mother has been deemed mentally incompetent. She has US Saving Bonds in her name and I need to know how to get these reissued where they will be made out to he guardians of her so that they can be cashed to help in her medical needs.

On March 20th, 2008 Tom Adams said:

Tony – The bonds should not be reissued in the name of the guardian; this would cause the taxes to go to you rather than your mother and creates conflict of interest issues.

As the legal guardian, however, you can cash her bonds using this form.

Tom Adams

On April 1st, 2008 de summer said:

my relative passed away leaving a trust in which the h/hh bonds are held and to be divided equally w/the benificiaries. My lawyer advises to cash/divide them. Is this a good idea?
And-some bonds are made out to only 2 of the benificiaries with “c/o in trust of the deceased”
Does this mean that these bonds are only to be divided between those two people or divided equally with all the benificiaries?

On April 2nd, 2008 Tom Adams said:

De Summer – According to the Treasury’s registration rules, the registration on your bonds isn’t possible (registration to a Trust and beneficiaries). So I can’t help you here. I suggest you scroll up and click the “Ask the Treasury” link on the right.

Tom Adams

On April 16th, 2008 Breana Mitchell said:

My grandfather passed away and had bought bongs for me and my brother, however we have just found out and it ha been thirteen years. The bank they were at was bought out in 1992 by another bank. How do i go about getting the bonds or finding out where they are?

On April 17th, 2008 Tom Adams said:

Breana – The information you’re looking for is on my page about recovering lost bongs.

Tom Adams

On June 11th, 2008 Joyce said:

I have matured us savings bonds E series.I would like to invest them somewhere. How do I do that without paying taxes. Can I put them directly into an IRA or CD to avoid the tax ?

On June 12th, 2008 Tom Adams said:

Joyce – you cannot avoid the tax. There are no rollovers allowed. The only possibility to to cash them, donate the money to charity, and take a charitable deduction on your tax return, but there are even limits to this a tax advisor can tell you about.

Tom Adams

On July 8th, 2008 Mr.Beaster said:

my grandmother passed away leaving savings bonds to my mother and her siblings.That was months ago.My uncle claimed its taking so long because the gov is taxing and verifying the names on the bonds. How long does this process usually take???
Thanks

On July 9th, 2008 Tom Adams said:

Mr. Beaster – It depends on the details of how the bonds were registered and how your grandmother’s estate was handled. If her estate is going through probate, the time varies state by state.

If you are worried about it, the best thing you can do is talk to a lawyer.

Tom Adams

On August 28th, 2008 JOHN said:

I have found some savings bonds that my granparents had purchased back in the late 1980’s. Since then both haver passed away. Am I able to redeem these series EE bonds? If so, how would I go about this??

John

On August 29th, 2008 Tom Adams said:

John – if only your grandparents names are on the bonds, then the bonds belong to the estate of the person who died last and need to be distributed by the estate.

There’s more info here, or you can use the Ask the Treasury link above and to the right to get some help with how to handle this.

Tom Adams

On September 8th, 2008 Annmarie said:

I recently cashed in three savings bonds that were in my ex husbands name and POD to me. These were given to me by the court in our divorce. My ex is deceased so I cashed in the bonds. After cashing I received a letter from the department of treasury stating the bonds were reported stolen and requesting repayment of the money. Am I responsible to return the funds?

On September 8th, 2008 Tom Adams said:

Annmarie – I suspect what happened is that after your ex-husband gave you the bonds, he declared they were stolen and had the bonds replaced. If so, it was a federal crime.

If he died recently you may be able to get the money from his estate, but I don’t see any reason that the Treasury would let you keep the money.

You need to discuss this situation with a lawyer this week.

Tom Adams

On December 27th, 2008 Liz said:

I recently rediscovered some savings bonds tucked away in a drawer that were issued to my grandmother. Most of the bonds have not yet reached maturity, but there is one savings note from 1969 that is past final maturity. I am listed as POD on the bond, but my grandmother is living, so I cannot yet do anything with the bond myself. When she passes, I know I will be responsible for the taxes on the interest, but what about the penalties for not cashing it in in 1999? Will I have to file an amended return and pay a penalty? Also, I believe in 99 I was only 14 and so did not file a tax return because I had no income, how does that work?

On January 2nd, 2009 Tom Adams said:

Hi Liz – It was your grandmother who didn’t cash it in during 1999, not you, so you won’t owe a tax penalty. However, she’s been paying a penalty in lost interest for 10 years, which has cost the two of you more than the taxes would have had they been paid in 1999.

Tom Adams

On June 15th, 2009 Jeri said:

John,
My daughter was killed at the age of 14. (She would be 17 this month) I recently realized that her great grandmother use to buy her savings bonds when she was little. Am I able to cash them out even if she was killed? If so, what would I need to do to go about it. My local bank does not handle Savings Bonds.

Sincerely,

Jeri, greiving mother.

On June 15th, 2009 Constance Phillips said:

I remember that my grandmother bought a $50 savings bond in the late 1980’s (not sure of the actual date) & saved it for me. Unfortunately, she passed away & I don’t have access to the actual paper bond. How can I access my money?

On June 18th, 2009 Tom Adams said:

Jeri – The information you’re looking for is here.

Constance – See this page.

Tom Adams

On October 6th, 2009 Pat said:

Here’s a new one for you! Ellen named my husband and her attorney as executors of her estate. When she died, they completed all of the paperwork to close the estate. Then my husband died and I am in the process of closing his estate. I recently found a savings bond that belonged to Ellen and actually was taken out in her MAIDEN name, it’s that old and forgotten. Looks like it’s worth about $500 now. Do I have to ask the lawyer to reopen the estate? How do we reconcile the maiden name with the married name? Is there a way to do this directly without also incurring attorney fees? Also there’s the successor path of going through my husband’s estate to me… Messy, isn’t it? Thanks for any suggestions.

On October 7th, 2009 Tom Adams said:

Pat – Indeed – this is complicated.

Ellen’s heirs can cash the bond without an attorney. Since the estate is closed and the executors have been released, the living executor, Ellen’s attorney, doesn’t need to be involved.

The heirs will need a copy of Public Debt Form 5394, a copy of Ellen’s death certificate, evidence of her maiden name (usually a marriage certificate; alternatively the birth certificates of Ellen’s children would typically include her maiden name), and a copy of the final paperwork from the probate court that names Ellen’s heirs.

All of the heirs will need to have their signatures certified on the form at a bank, so consider turning all the leg work over to them.

Tom Adams

On January 3rd, 2010 James Taylor said:

my mom passed on dec. 2, 2009. I have found 20 EE bonds she bought over several years. SHE is listed on them but it also says or my step dad. He passed in nov. 1996. His will was taken care of at that time .I am my moms only heir and also the executor of her will. What do i have to do to change them to my name ? Please help if you can. Thanke you, James Taylor

On January 4th, 2010 Tom Adams said:

James – When your step-father died, the bonds legally became sole-owner bonds in your mother’s name. As of her death, the bonds became part of her estate. You will need the court paperwork that assigns her estate to you to change them into your name.

My book goes into this in great detail and answers a number of questions you haven’t thought to ask yet.

Tom Adams

On January 22nd, 2010 Lynn Wong said:

Hello, Tom. I am executrix of my father’s estate. Just received my copy of your book and read the section on bond inheritance issues but I have further questions. Dad had HH bonds issued between Nov. 1996 and Oct. 2001, with face value total $58K and deferred interest value total around $49K. I know they reach final maturity in 20 years. I realize HH bonds are no longer sold, but as executrix, and since these bonds of Dad’s have not reached final maturity, can I have them reissued? What I’d like to do is split them in equal shares between my brother and me. I have looked at the PD F Forms 4000 and 1455, and if I understand the forms, then I can list the bonds and give instructions that each bond be split 50-50 between my brother and me. Does this literally mean that for each of Dad’s HH bonds, the result is two paper bonds, each with half the face value and half the deferred interest (one for bro, one for me)? How does that work, since HH bonds were only issued in several denominations ($500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000)? Also, does the deferred interest listed on Dad’s HH bonds continue to be deferred on the reissued bonds until my brother and I redeem them?

Thanks very much for your help.

On January 25th, 2010 Tom Adams said:

Hi Lynn – Yes, it literally means they will split the bonds between the two of you, assuming that a split is possible. All HH bond denominations can be split into two except the $500 bond, which can’t be split (because there’s no $250 bond).

Splitting them in two, when possible, is the fairest way to handle the distribution.

The deferred interest will continue to be deferred until you cash the bonds.

Tom Adams

On March 18th, 2010 Rev. David K. Moore said:

My church is the possession of some Savings Bonds one of our deceased members left to the church. Her name and our name are listed on the face of the bonds. We have not had any success in cashing them in because they are made out to our deceased member and the church. We’ve been told that “The bonds are not registered in an authorized manner”. The deceased members estate had been closed for some time and I’m trying to find out our best course of action. Our member wanted to leave these bonds to the church and our name listed on the bonds evidenses that. Can you make any recommendations.

On March 19th, 2010 Tom Adams said:

David – Indeed, this is not an authorized registration. But if your church’s name was actually printed on the bond by the U.S. Treasury with an OR or POD between your benefactor’s name and your church’s name, then it’s the U.S. Treasury that made the error and it’s the U.S. Treasury that needs to rectify it.

I suggest you contact the Treasury and ask how to proceed, given that it was the Treasury’s error to register the bond this way. It should have refused to issue the bond rather than lead your benefactor to believe this was a legal registration.

Tom Adams

On May 25th, 2010 Myra said:

Tom, both of my parents are deceased and it is my understanding that my sister and I can get bonds that have not yet matured reregistered in our names by providing death certificates for both. However, we have one bond purchased by our mother and the co-owner was a very dear friend of hers who has been deceased for quite some time. Will I have to attempt to get a death certificate from her family? Thanks.

On May 26th, 2010 Tom Adams said:

Myra – yes, getting this taken care of will require the death certificates of everyone named on the bonds. The bond with two names belongs to the estate of the person who died last.

You will also have to prove that you and your sister are the only heirs. How you do this depends on how your parents’ estates were handled. It’s fairly complicated, but my book has the details.

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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