Are all beneficiaries of bank accounts payable on death, or must it be explicitly stated? 16 Answers as of April 30, 2013

I was under the impression that all beneficiaries to bank accounts are 'pay on death', but I keep reading about bank account beneficiaries as "POD beneficiaries" as if to differentiate them from non-POD accounts. I realize all joint owners take precedence over any beneficiary; and that there are primary and secondary beneficiaries; and that there can be multiple beneficiaries and in various percentages.

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
With respect to bank accounts, I've never seen contingent beneficiaries, although I suppose this is possible. The term is "payable on death" or, for securities, "transfer on death." It would be unnecessary to create a beneficiary for any condition other than the death of the account owner, since the account owner can always withdraw money and make gifts, if that's the intent.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 11/16/2012
Victor Varga | Victor Varga
Can't be a beneficiary unless death occurs, so yes, all beneficiary designations are POD or TOD.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 4/30/2013
Craig Epifanio, P.A.
Craig Epifanio, P.A. | Craig Epifanio
It must be explicitly stated if the account is not a joint account.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 11/15/2012
Hamblin Law Office | Sally Hamblin
If the words pay on death appear for a beneficiary, then the money goes to that person with no court order. Non POD accounts do not have beneficiary but a joint owner.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 11/15/2012
Ben T. Liu Law Office
Ben T. Liu Law Office | Ben T. Liu
You need to read the language of the bank very carefully. It will depend on how your account was set up and the bank's definitions.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 11/15/2012
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    POD beneficiaries are either specified, and if not, then the estate probate will have to collect the funds and distribute them according to a will or administration of the estate.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/15/2012
    Dwight Edward Tompkins, Attorney at Law
    Dwight Edward Tompkins, Attorney at Law | Dwight Edward Tompkins
    Not all bank accounts are automatically POD. The account owner must affirmatively set the account up that way with the bank; and only the named beneficiary or beneficiaries are entitled to the account on the death of the owner.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/15/2012
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    First it depends on how the account is titled. If it is just several persons named on the account, for example "John Jones, Mary Jones and Alice Smith", then in some states everyone holds the account as tenants in common and if one of them dies, their share goes to their heirs, not to the other persons named on the account. In other states, the person or persons named on the account (or their heirs) who actually put the money into the account have the right to the money, despite who is named on the account. If it is held as joint tenants (and this is a legal term) for example, "John Jones, Mary Jones and Alice Smith as joint tenants with right of survivorship", then if one of them dies, the remaining named persons are the owners until the last one is alive and that person gets it all. A "payable on death" designation must be stated as payable on death and the person or persons to whom it is payable must be stated, such as "Payable on death to Joe Jones." You should consult a probate or estate planning attorney to determine how it is titled and how that is treated in that state.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/15/2012
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    A non-POD account has no beneficiary listed.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 11/14/2012
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    The POD governs. There cannot not be beneficiaries unless one has passed away.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/14/2012
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC | Barry D. Broome
    Paid on Death allows the bank accounts to be paid to the named beneficiary. No probate required. All accounts that are listed in the deceased name only must pass through Probate. Barry Your financial plan is not complete until it is co-ordinated with your estate plan. Will your family be provided for when you are gone? Without a Will, the court will decide.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 11/14/2012
    John Simmons
    John Simmons | John Simmons
    Usually, but not necessarily always payable on death. The account agreement (the document that governs the terms of the account as between the person who set the account up and the bank or other financial institution) needs to be checked to see whether the balance is payable on death of the original account holder, or only later, and perhaps only on certain terms and conditions. An account may be set up with no specification of what happens to the balance on the death of the account holder. In such situations, the balance in the account is most likely part of the person's estate, and will end up as directed by the deceased's last will and testament or if died without one, then per the state's intestacy laws, laws that direct to which family members, in what order of preference, the deceased's assets should go.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 11/14/2012
    Contact the bank and ask them what their policies are.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 11/14/2012
    Law Offices of Robert H. Glorch | Jeffrey R. Gottlieb
    I don't understand your question. The account might have a POD designation or it might not have a POD designation. It must be explicitly stated to have a POD designation. Otherwise, if there is no POD designation, and there is just one owner, the account would be part of the owner's estate.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 11/14/2012
    Winnick Ruben Hoffnung Peabody & Mendel, LLC | Daniel N. Hoffnung
    The language on the account controls the nature of the account.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 11/14/2012
    Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
    POD (payment on death) and TOD (transfer on death) are simply different ways of expressing that the account has beneficiaries. These would all normally pass automatically to the beneficiaries upon death.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 11/14/2012
Click to View More Answers:
12 3 Free Legal QuestionsConnect with a local attorney