Is A Payable On Death Account For Me?

What it is
A Payable on Death (POD) account is an agreement between you and your bank or credit union that your assets at the financial institution will be transferred to specific beneficiaries when you pass away. A POD account may also be referred to as a Totten Trust, an informal trust, or other names.

Potential advantages

  • There is usually no cost for a POD
  • Creating one is easy, with just a few required forms to be filled out
  • A POD can help your beneficiaries avoid the probate process and have access to assets much quicker
  • Beneficiaries just need to show a copy of the death certificate to access the money
  • There's no limit on how much money you can direct in this way
  • You alone control all the money in the account(s) until you pass on

Potential disadvantages

  • If you are leaving money to multiple beneficiaries, the money is automatically divided up equally among the beneficiaries, so there is less flexibility in apportionment
  • Minors are not eligible to be beneficiaries of POD accounts directly; instead a guardianship will need to be set up
  • It is not possible to select alternate or “second choice” beneficiaries for a POD account

If your biggest concern for your beneficiaries is that they have access to your assets as quickly and easily as possible, a Payable on Death account could be just the thing for you. Contact a professional estate planner and your financial institution for more information.


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