Close financial accounts and services
Closing the deceased's financial accounts and services will require contacting the associating financial institution and following their required procedures.
Important These accounts will normally be handled as part of probate and only by the deceased's estate's executor or administrator.
To avoid unnecessary expenses, only close financial accounts after canceling all of the deceased's subscriptions and recurring payments.
To prevent fraud or unwanted bills, freeze or close financial accounts that will no longer be used.
Accounts with named beneficiaries - also known as Payable on Death (POD) or Transfer on Death (TOD) - do not go through probate because the beneficiary automatically owns the POD or TOD asset once the account-holder dies.
Common financial accounts
- Money market accounts
- Certificates of deposit (CD)
- Car loans
- Car leases
- Insurance policies
How do I know if an account is Payable on Death or Transfer on Death?
If the deceased had a bank account, savings account, or investment account that was Payable or Transfer on Death, the account will be labeled “POD,” “TOD”, or “ITF” which is short for “in trust for.”
Normally, the ITF account will be named according to the beneficiary (e.g., “ITF Jane Doe”). In such a case, Jane Doe would be the beneficiary of the account and would automatically own the assets in the account without having to go go through the legal probate process.
For example, if a deceased person had an investment account worth $50,000 titled “ITF Jane Doe,” then Jane automatically became the owner of the $50,000 account when the deceased died.
Jane Doe should go to the financial institution where the account is located with personal ID and a certified copy of the deceased’s death certificate in order to gain access to the account.
How does a beneficiary claim money from a Payable on Death or Transfer on Death Account?
After the deceased passes, the beneficiary will need to show the financial institution where the account is located a Certified Copy of the deceased’s Death Certificate (Unofficial Copies are usually not accepted).
They will also need to prove their own identity with a valid ID to show they are the rightful owner of the account.
The financial institution may provide other paperwork which needs to be completed before the account can be accessed, but this varies by institution.
Once ownership of the account is proven, the account belongs to the beneficiary and they can keep the account as is, or opt to transfer the funds from the POD or TOD account to another personal .
What is a Payable on Death (POD) or Transfer on Death (TOD) Account?
POD and TOD accounts are an arrangement between an individual account holder and the financial institution that holds the asset (e.g., a bank account).
The individual account holder names a beneficiary (often a spouse, parent, or child) for the account.
This designated beneficiary inherits the account upon the account-holder’s death, without a need to go through the legal probate process.
In other words, the beneficiary automatically owns the POD or TOD asset once the account-holder dies.