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Is there such a thing as a beneficiary to a bank account NOT automatically receiving rights to it upon death of owner?

Willowbrook, IL |

Are all beneficiaries 'payable on death' or not? If not, does this type of beneficiary have a special name? How would one be able to tell the two apart? Does the beneficiary document have to say something to the effect of "payable to the following beneficiary upon death"? I was under the impression that all beneficiaries to bank accounts are 'pay on death'. What would be the point of naming a beneficiary if it is not payable upon death? Thank you.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. Best answer

    It is correct that all beneficiaries on any bank accounts or CDs are persons who will receive any distributions upon death of the primary account or CD holder. Beneficiary by definition is someone who will benefit after death of another person.


  2. There is no such thing as a beneficiary on a bank account.

    If you are talking about a joint bank account, then all proceeds go directly to the surviving joint owner upon the death of the other joint owner.


  3. While I can't give an informed opinion without reviewing relevant documents, I tend to agree with you. "Beneficiary" generally means one who takes at the death of the donor.

    There may be some contingencies that could affect distribution, but as a general matter you are right.


  4. The signature card, which is on file at the bank, will indicate how the account was titled. You should ask to see this card, which was filled out by the account holder when the account was opened.

    I agree that bank accounts generally do not have beneficiaries. The account may have been titled jointly, with rights of survivorship - or it could have been an account for the benefit of some other individual.

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