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Can I Withdraw Money from my TOD Account?

ATM with money being withdrawn from a TOD account

If you are wondering, “can I withdraw money from my TOD account?” The answer is, it depends. Are you the account owner? Are you the beneficiary? If you are the beneficiary, has the account owner died? Whether you can withdraw on your Transfer on Death (TOD) account will depend on your answers to these questions.

What is a TOD Account?

A TOD account is an investment account that is transferred to the beneficiary upon the account owner’s death. It is akin to a payable on death bank account. In a TOD account, the account owner executes a TOD agreement allowing the account’s assets to be transferred directly to the intended beneficiary without the need of passing through probate.

When an account does not pass through probate, the transfer to the beneficiary is faster because no court involvement is required. All the beneficiary needs to do is to submit appropriate documents to the financial institution to verify the appropriateness of the transfer, such as a certified copy of the account owner’s death certificate. Once the financial institution is satisfied with the documents submitted, the designated beneficiary can access and withdraw money from the TOD account.

Who Can Withdraw Money from a TOD Account

If you are the account owner, you have full ownership of the TOD account. As the name suggests, the bank account is only transferred upon your death. While you, the account owner, are still alive, you have full ownership while the beneficiary has no right over the TOD account. While you are alive, the beneficiary cannot withdraw from the TOD account. You can even change the beneficiary in the TOD account as many times as you please. The beneficiary does not have any present interest in a TOD account while the account owner is still alive.

If you are the beneficiary and you are wondering, ‘can I withdraw money from my TOD account,’ unfortunately, the answer is no if the account owner is still alive. You, as a beneficiary of a TOD account, have no present interest on the TOD account because you may be replaced by the account owner at any time, as he so pleases. The beneficiary of a TOD account has no interest in the TOD account until the account owner dies. Thus, you can only withdraw from your TOD account when the account owner dies.

If you are the beneficiary of the TOD account, you have not been replaced, and the account owner dies, you may withdraw money from the TOD account upon the financial institution’s satisfaction of the documents you have submitted. When the account owner dies, the beneficiary begins to have a present interest over the TOD account. However, you need to present documents to prove your interest in the TOD account. These documents would include a certified copy of the death certificate of the account owner, documents to prove your identity as a beneficiary such as a government ID, an English translation if these documents are in another language, any other documents that the financial institution might require.

If you are dealing with a situation such as can I withdraw money from my TOD account, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or send us an email at attorneyalbertgoodwin@gmail.com.


For example, your dad designated you as the beneficiary in his TOD brokerage account which owns stocks worth $50,000. He informed you of this designation as beneficiary.

Now, you run out of cash and would like to make a withdrawal in this TOD account. Can you? No, because your dad is not dead, and you do not have a present interest in the brokerage account. The financial institution will not release any amount to you.

Suppose that after your dad told you that he designated you as his beneficiary, you and your dad got into a fight. Thereafter, your dad changed the beneficiary to your sister. Can you file a case in court claiming that your dad cannot change the designated beneficiary without your consent as the present beneficiary? No, because your dad, the account owner, can change the name of the beneficiary in the TOD account as many times as he pleases. He has full ownership over the account, to the exclusion of everybody else (including the designated beneficiary), until his death.

Suppose that your dad has died and still has you designated as beneficiary in the TOD brokerage account, can you now withdraw money from the account? Yes, for as long as you submit the proper documents to the financial institution, showing proof of death of the account owner, your identity as beneficiary, and other documents they may require.

Disadvantages of a TOD Account

One major disadvantage of a TOD account is that its assets cannot be used to pay for funeral expenses, taxes, and other estate expenses, since TOD accounts are not part of the probate estate. If the probate estate consists of illiquid assets such as real property, then this property has to be sold in order to pay for the estate’s expenses before distribution to the beneficiaries. For this reason, a TOD account is advisable for small estates but may be problematic in larger estates.

TOD accounts are one way of planning your estate to ensure that your heirs or beneficiaries receive your assets at the quickest possible time and at the least cost. There are several techniques that an estate planning attorney like us uses to plan an estate to ensure lower transfer costs to the beneficiaries. Should you need assistance in planning your estate or accessing funds and accounts left by a loved one, we, at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin, are here for you. We have offices in New York, NY, Brooklyn, NY, and Queens, NY. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or send us an email at attorneyalbertgoodwin@gmail.com.