Changing a living co-owner (or owner)

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006
Categorized as: Savings Bond registration changes

I own Savings Bonds, both EE and I, that name co-owners who I no longer wish to have as co-owners. How do I remove their names and put someone else’s name on them without cashing them in?

Unlike adding a co-owner to a Savings Bond registration that doesn’t already have one or changing a co-owner who has died, changing a living owner or co-owner of a paper Savings Bond can have tax consequences and requires the permission of the co-owner.

If you want to do this, I recommend you read the chapter of my book, Savings Bond Advisor, on Savings Bond registration changes.

After that you’ll understand whether the change would be taxable and what your other options are. If you decide to go ahead, you’ll know what additional information to provide.

If you want to try it without that information, the form to use is Public Debt Form 4000.

For those who have electronic bonds in TreasuryDirect, on the other hand, the definition of co-ownership is different. The Treasury calls this a with registration rather than the or registration of paper Savings Bonds. You can change a living co-owner of a TreasuryDirect Savings Bond without creating a taxable event.

However, if you convert a paper bond with a co-owner to an electronic bond, Treasury Direct marks it as a restricted security, which means that it has the same rules regarding registration changes as paper bonds, not electronic bonds, even though in all other respects the conversion makes it an electronic bond.

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10 Comments

On March 21st, 2006 Mario said:

I think it’s also important to note that electronic savings bonds have different ownership form (primary ownership, connection word “WITH” as opposed to co-ownership in paper bonds, connection word “OR”). The registration for these can be changed in TreasuryDirect.

Tom, do you think there is a potential security concern when someone compromises your TreasuryDirect account, that they can change your registrations to make themselves the second-named registrant and then transfer the security into their own account? Granted, they would leave a trail, so would be very bold/stupid to do this.

On March 22nd, 2006 Tom Adams said:

Mario - Right you are! Paper and electronic Savings Bonds have an important difference when it comes to co-owner registrations. I’ve updated the post to incorporate your improvements.

As for the security concern you mention, I agree that someone who did this would certainly be caught, yet at the same time the account owner would be out the money. It’s yet another reason to be very careful with your TreasuryDirect password.

On June 24th, 2008 Carlene Null said:

I am the beneficiary and/or co-owner on E and EE bonds where my mother was primary owner. She passed away in 1991. They have not reached final maturity. I would like to change myself as primary owner and add a beneficiary and/or co-owner.

On June 24th, 2008 Tom Adams said:

Carlene - the information you’re looking for is here.

Tom Adams

On February 24th, 2009 Patty said:

My Grandmom wants to know how to change Social security numbers on a bond from the parent to the child it was intended for? Can she can in bonds without penalties? She lost some savings bonds how can she get them back?

On February 25th, 2009 Tom Adams said:

Patty - see these posts:

Correcting wrong SSN

Info on redemption penalties

Lost bonds

Tom Adams

On April 15th, 2009 Kacey said:

My mother purchased bonds when I was a child (20 years ago)using her name as owner and my name as co-owner. Can I transfer them (with my mother’s consent) to my and my child’s names as co-owners? Will there be tax consequences for my mother? If so, what will they be?

On April 16th, 2009 Tom Adams said:

Kacey - yes, your mother would get a 1099-INT tax form reporting the interest earned by the bonds so far. Then, when you or your daughter eventually cash the bonds, you’ll get a 1099-INT reporting all the interest the bonds have ever earned. You don’t actually have to pay the tax twice, but you will.

Your mother could change your name to your daughter’s name without tax consequences.

Tom Adams

On December 5th, 2009 Peter said:

The last paragraph states that “You can change a bond’s co-owner without the co-owner’s permission by converting your paper bond to an electronic bond, then changing the registration yourself in TreasuryDirect”.

But in another article it says you need the co-owners permission to do this, Which is correct?

On December 7th, 2009 Tom Adams said:

Peter - I’ve edited the article above, as it was incorrect. See the new final paragraph. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

Tom Adams

Comments Closed

June 1, 2010

After six years, over 400 posts, 3,680 real comments, and over 90,000 spam comments (thank you, Akismet, for making managing a blog with comments possible), I am closing public comments on Savings-Bond-Advisor.com. I will contine to update the main articles on this site, but not the comments.

Virtually every question about Savings Bonds has been asked and answered on this site multiple times. Use the search feature (see the box in the gray area near the top of this page) or the detailed menu on the lower part of the home page to find the information you're looking for. If you have a copy of Savings Bond Advisor, you can ask me a question here.

Tom Adams

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