How to Open a Payable on Death Account

by Contributor ; Updated July 27, 2017
Open a Payable on Death Account

How to Open a Payable on Death Account. A payable on death (POD) account, also known as a Totten or informal trust account, is a simple and free way to disperse assets upon death. The benefits are immediate distribution, exemption from estate taxes and no probate delays or costs. Read on to learn how open a payable on death account.

Step 1

Decide on your beneficiaries. Most banks allow up to three. When you die, your funds are divided equally between your named heirs.

Step 2

Determine what type of account to open. Checking accounts normally require a lower initial deposit; savings and CD accounts may require from $300 to $1000 to open.

Step 3

Collect all required identification documents. The bank requires a photo ID, like a driver's license, passport or military ID and a secondary ID, such as a credit or debit card is accepted. Have the beneficiary's full legal name, address, phone number, date of birth and Social Security number.

Step 4

Take identification, beneficiary's information and spousal waiver, when applicable, to the financial institution. Clear up any uncertainties and make sure to understand all the features and fees associated with the account you're opening. Open your payable on death account.


  • If you are married, and don't want to name your spouse as your beneficiary, you must obtain their written, notarized waiver of rights to the funds deposited in your payable on death account. A few states require a waiting period or 30 to 90 days prior to dispersal. Ask your financial institution to avoid surprises.


  • Many states do not allow for unequal disbursements. If your beneficiary may still be a minor at the time of your death, name a custodian to avoid court costs. Your beneficiary has no access to a payable on death account while you are alive. This is not the account for you if you need assistance managing your finances.