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Transferring U.S. Savings Bonds in Probate

Transferring U.S. Savings Bonds in Probate

Transferring assets, such as U.S. Savings Bonds, to beneficiaries is just one of the duties that needs to be handled in probate. U.S. Savings bonds are debt securities issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to help pay for the U.S. government’s borrowing needs. U.S. savings bonds are considered one of the safest investments because they are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.

The method of transferring U.S. Savings Bonds depends on how the bonds were held by the deceased. For example, if the U.S. Savings Bonds were held individually without payable on death beneficiaries, then they will have to be distributed through probate. If the bonds were held jointly, then they pass automatically, outside of probate, to the survivor. If the U.S. Savings Bonds have payable on death beneficiaries, they too pass outside of probate and they will need to get re-issued to the beneficiaries listed on the account.

There are certain forms that need to be filled out in order to re-title the U.S. Savings Bonds in the new owner’s name. For jointly held Savings Bonds and Savings Bonds with payable on death beneficiaries, Form 4000 (FS Form 4000) must be filled out and submitted along with the bond and the death certificate. If the bonds are individually owned, then a slightly different process must be utilized. If the U.S. Bonds enter probate, then Form 1455 (FS Form 1455) should be filled out by the personal representative/executor of the estate and submitted along with the letters of administration and death certificate. If there is no probate, then Form 5366 (FS Form 5366), along with a copy of the small estate affidavit and/or the court decree in a summary administration and death certificate.

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