There are several ways U.S. EE bonds can be redeemed when both of the owners are deceased. The redemption method you select depends on how the bonds are titled. It also depends on the total value of the EE bonds and the size of the decedent’s estate. Even if the decedents left the bonds to more than one person, you may be able to pass the bonds directly to the beneficiaries. However, if the bonds don’t name a specific beneficiary, you may have to open an estate to redeem the bonds.
You don’t have to redeem U.S. EE bonds if a Payable on Death beneficiary is named. Bonds that are held in the decedent’s names with the POD designation pass directly to the named beneficiary. For example, if the bonds are held as John and Jane Doe, POD Mary Doe, Mary is the legal owner of the bonds when both John and Jane are dead. In this case, you give the EE bonds directly to Mary. Because the EE bonds are not included with the decedent’s estate, they don’t go through probate.
No Estate Opened
If no POD beneficiaries are named, you can redeem the EE bonds through the Treasury Department without opening an estate. To qualify, the value of all the bonds added together must be $100,000 or less on the day the last owner died. If the owners held paper bonds, you must download Form PD F 5336 from the Treasury Direct website. You mail the completed form, the EE bonds and certified death certificates for all the deceased owners to the Treasury Department. If the EE bonds are held electronically, the Bureau of Fiscal Service will redeem the bonds for you.
Small Estate Probate
If the EE bonds are worth more than $100,000 on the day the last owner died, you must open an estate to redeem them. You can open a small estate if the bonds are the only assets. To redeem paper bonds, all the beneficiaries must sign Form PD F 1455 after you complete it. The Treasury Department will mail a check to each beneficiary after it receives the completed form, the bonds and the certified death certificates for both deceased owners.
Formal Estate Probate
You can redeem the EE bonds once a formal estate is opened, and you are appointed as personal representative. You must indicate on Form PD F 1455 that you want to redeem the EE bonds and sign the back of each bond as the personal representative. In addition, each beneficiary must sign the back of each bond and state that they want to redeem the bonds. You send the completed form, the bonds, a copy of the court order appointing you as personal representative and the decedents’ death certificates to the Treasury Department. The redemption proceeds then become part of the decedent’s estate.
Based in St. Petersburg, Fla., Karen Rogers covers the financial markets for several online publications. She received a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of South Florida.