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The fate of your bank accounts after you die in Pennsylvania

You can’t take anything with you when you die, but you can actually dictate everything that should happen with your body and properties in Pennsylvania. For example, your heirs might get what’s left in your bank accounts, or the government might take them away. It all depends on the account type, how you set it up and what laws are in place.

Joint accounts

You can set up a bank account with anyone you want, including your spouse, a family member or another friend. If the account has a “joint with rights of survivorship,” or JWROS, clause, then upon your death, the bank will transfer all the funds in there to them.

POD accounts

You can also set up a bank account with another individual or entity as “payable on death,” or POD. This type of account is beneficial in that it avoids probate fees when you pass away and allows your designated beneficiary to access the funds immediately. The beneficiary simply has to present a valid death certificate and proof of identity to claim their inheritance.

Trust accounts

If you don’t want either yourself or your beneficiary to be in control of your money after you die, you can use estate administration services to set up a trust account. This type of account allows you to appoint a professional trustee to manage any assets, including your bank accounts, in the trust account on behalf of your beneficiaries after your death.

Unclaimed accounts

If you set up none of the above accounts and don’t have any heirs, then your bank account will become unclaimed property after your death. The government will take custody of it and hold it until they identify someone with a valid claim. If no one ever claims the account, they will transfer the funds to the state’s unclaimed property fund.

It’s important to make sure that all of these arrangements are in place before your death so that there isn’t any confusion about who gets what when you pass away. And if your loved one died without making any arrangements, it may be a good idea to contact their bank to figure out how to access the money or file with the probate court to claim the assets.