In Case of Death: Beneficiaries and Other Common Questions

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Digging deep into financial conversations can be hard, but discussing truly complicated matters, such as what happens in the case of death, can be even tougher. As difficult as it may be, your complete financial picture deserves your attention.

Naming a Payable-On-Death (POD) beneficiary is a way to allow money to pass to your family members or loved ones outside of the probate process. While most of us don’t enjoy thinking about what will happen at our death, listing a POD beneficiary on your account can allow someone of your choosing to access those funds quickly, instead of your money sitting in an account or being caught up in the probate process.

Here are some frequently asked questions about POD beneficiaries:

Can I list anyone as my POD beneficiary, or does it have to be a relative?

You can list anyone as your POD beneficiary. While many people do list a family member, this is not a requirement.

Can I change my POD beneficiary?

Yes. You may change or remove a POD beneficiary at any time.

Can the POD beneficiary access my account?

Your POD beneficiary has no rights to your account or access to the funds. They cannot perform any transactions, inquire about the balance, or do anything else related to the account.

It’s been years since I opened my account, and I forget who I listed. Should I check to see who it is?

It’s important to periodically check on your POD beneficiary to make sure he/she is still the person you would like to be entitled to the funds in that account. We see it all too often: Alan opens an account and lists his wife, Beth, as POD beneficiary. Years later, Alan and Beth divorce, and Alan re-marries. When Alan dies, his second wife Cindy comes to the credit union to claim the funds, only to find out that Beth was still listed as POD beneficiary and is entitled to the funds in the account. Be sure something like this doesn’t happen to you.

Can I name an alternate POD beneficiary?

This depends on the type of account. Checking and savings accounts only allow for one POD beneficiary at a time. However, other accounts such as Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) do allow for multiple beneficiaries and/or alternate beneficiaries. For example, you may have two children and wish to have them each be entitled to 50% of the funds. You may want to list your spouse as a primary beneficiary and your child as an alternate beneficiary who will only receive the funds if your spouse passes away before you do. These arrangements are allowed for IRAs but not for checking or savings accounts.

How do I find out who my POD beneficiary is or make a change?

Your POD beneficiary is listed on your account card. To find out who you currently have listed or to change your POD beneficiary, please visit any Call Federal branch.

Have more questions about beneficiaries, managing finances after the loss of a spouse or a divorce, or talking to your children about money? Let us know! Our financial counselors and branch staff are here for you when you need us. Email your questions to [email protected] to start a conversation or schedule an appointment.

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