Adding a beneficiary to a joint bank account is a good way to avoid probate for the money in that account. With the personal information of the beneficiary, the account owner can add a "pay on death" designation to her account in a few minutes by visiting her bank's local branch office. Upon the deaths of the joint account holders, the beneficiary can come to the bank, produce proper identification and be given access to the funds in that account.
Go to the bank that holds the account for which you want to add a beneficiary. For those whose joint account reads "or" for the account owners (for example, Mary Smith or John Smith), only one of the account holders must go to the bank to fill out the paperwork. For joint accounts that read "and" (for example, Mary Smith and John Smith), both account owners must go to the bank.
Request a pay on death, or POD, form. Most banks have POD forms that allow you to list the information for the beneficiary you name.
Fill out the form with the name, date of birth and Social Security number of your designated beneficiary.
Sign the form and return it to the banker, authorizing him to add the designated beneficiary to your account.
- The beneficiary of a joint account cannot access the account until both account holders are dead.
- Make sure that your will lists the account and the beneficiary of the account to prevent will disputes after your death.