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2 deaths cause savings bond confusion

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Dear Dr. Don,
My mother died and left everything to my brother and myself. My mother had savings bonds that had her name and her father’s name on them. My mother died first and two weeks later her father died. Their names were the only names on the bonds. So what do we do now?
— Susan Savings

Dear Susan,
If your mom died first, then it’s her dad’s estate that controls the disposition of the bonds, not your mom’s estate. That’s because, as co-owners, her father became sole owner when your mom died.

From the TreasuryDirect Web page “Death of a Savings Bond Owner“:

“If both people named on a bond are deceased, the bond is the property of the estate of the person who died last.”

The same Web page describes what you need to do when no survivor is named on the bond. It depends, in part, on the dollar value of the bonds and whether your grandfather’s estate had a court-appointed representative, or if that representative has already been discharged by the court.

You didn’t tell me how long ago your mother and grandfather died, or whether your grandfather had a will or died intestate (without a will). If he died without a will, state laws of intestacy will determine how his estate is distributed to his heirs. If he had a will, that document will determine what happens to the savings bonds.

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