What is a POD Account?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
A POD account provides that in the event of death, the beneficiary, such as a child, will have full access to any money in the account.
A POD account provides that in the event of death, the beneficiary, such as a child, will have full access to any money in the account.

POD accounts are a simple way to provide for quick and easy access to bank accounts in the event of the account holder's death. Also known as payable on death accounts or Totten trusts, the service is free and available at a number of banks, credit unions, and savings and loan institutions. Setting up this type of account is one way of ensuring that funds that are needed to take care of immediate expenses can be accessed without waiting for wills to be probated and assets to be released.

Also known as a Totten trust, a POD account ensures immediate expenses can still be taken care of upon death, without waiting for probate.
Also known as a Totten trust, a POD account ensures immediate expenses can still be taken care of upon death, without waiting for probate.

Setting up a payable on death account involves designating a beneficiary. The process involves requesting that the account be set up with a local banking institution. In most cases, there is no cost associated with this procedure; all that is required is that the account holder fill out a simple form, identify the bank accounts the person wishes to have tied to the POD account, provide the name and contact information for the beneficiary, and add his signature to the form. In the event of the death, the beneficiary will have full access to any savings and checking accounts specified on the form.

POD accounts allow access to saving and checking accounts, among others.
POD accounts allow access to saving and checking accounts, among others.

This type of account is different from simply opening a joint account. With a joint account, the second individual has authorization to withdraw funds while the primary account holder is still alive. By contrast, the POD account setup will only allow the beneficiary access to the funds once the death of the primary account holder is established to the satisfaction of the financial institution.

Along with checking and savings accounts, the terms of the POD agreement may also allow access to certificates of deposit and other securities that are associated with any accounts established with the bank and in the name of the primary account holder. Policies on securities will vary somewhat from one jurisdiction to another. Bank personnel can provide information on what restrictions, if any, are in place when it comes to covering existing accounts.

While a POD account is a good solution for some situations, this type of arrangement is not ideal for everyone. There is the possibility of a delay in allowing access to the assets included in the agreement, especially if there are tax issues pending. This is especially true if the local jurisdiction imposes estate taxes, since they generally must be paid out of existing assets first. Once this is done, the beneficiary will have access to any remaining assets included in the POD arrangement.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including SmartCapitalMind, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including SmartCapitalMind, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

anon336778

What about if the beneficiary of a POD account is overseas?

anon303755

My mother has a will written where it states share and share alike when she passes. But my sister invested the entire sale of her house in a John Hancock account with a POD to her.

Does this still mean that the money from the sale of the house is shared equally between me and my sister or does it bypass the will and go directly to her?

moonTiger

@emartin74 -- Well, if you already have an IRA you can set up an IRA beneficiary account. If the person who will receive the IRA already has his or her own IRA, they will save money on taxes because they can integrate the inherited IRA into their own IRA account. Depending on the withdrawal rules for the beneficiary's age, they may be able to take funds over a five year span.

emartin74

This sounded like a great way to allow one of my family members to have access to my bank account, until I read the part about taxes. What options are there for saving money on taxes when you want to leave money to your loved ones when you die?

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    • A POD account provides that in the event of death, the beneficiary, such as a child, will have full access to any money in the account.
      By: Halfpoint
      A POD account provides that in the event of death, the beneficiary, such as a child, will have full access to any money in the account.
    • Also known as a Totten trust, a POD account ensures immediate expenses can still be taken care of upon death, without waiting for probate.
      By: Marzky Ragsac Jr.
      Also known as a Totten trust, a POD account ensures immediate expenses can still be taken care of upon death, without waiting for probate.
    • POD accounts allow access to saving and checking accounts, among others.
      By: JohnKwan
      POD accounts allow access to saving and checking accounts, among others.