P.O.D. (Payable On Death) Form And The Fallacy Of The Trending TikTok Video In Relation To Monies In The Bank Of A Deceased Person

Someone sent me a TikTok video with an accompanying statement of ‘This guy just said the truth which Nigerian Banks don’t want you to know and act on”. I did not hesitate to watch the video because I was also curious to know that truth that banks don’t want me to know concerning my monies in their custody. I have also received numerous calls asking me to confirm the legal position of the content of that video.

The video started with ‘ If you die today, your next-of-kin will not have any access to the money in your account…..” He said that unless the deceased made the next-of-kin a co-signatory to his or her account or had a Will, the bank will not pay the next-of-kin the monies of the deceased. The bank will ask the next-of-kin to go through the lengthy and expensive probate process in order to be paid the monies of the deceased.   He went further to state that the deceased’s family will have to forfeit some amount of money known as legal fees in the whole probate process. He suggested that to avoid all those expenses, one should go to his or her bank and request for the Payable on Death (POD) Form. In other words, his personal opinion was that filling the POD Form mandates the bank to pay the monies standing to the credit of a deceased person’s bank account directly to the next-of-kin without the next-of-kin presenting Letters of Administration or Grant of Probate to the bank.

Immediately I finished watching the said video, I concluded that this guy does not live in Nigeria or he might just be saying that in order to gain massive viewership. What he said in the video is only obtainable in America and other saner climes, not in Nigeria. So why did he have to spread this fallacy to Nigerians? Let him tell us which bank does that so that we can all migrate to that particular bank. More so, it has become so easy and fast to get Letters of Administration in Lagos State, especially with if you engage a Probate Lawyer.

The position of the law is that in the event of death, the monies in the bank of a dead person who died without having a Will shall be paid to the dead person’s beneficiaries who have been granted Letters of Administration by the Probate Registry of the High Court of a State. If the deceased had a valid Will, the Will shall also go through the Probate process and the Executors of the Will shall be issued a Grant of Probate before the bank will pay them the monies of the deceased. Remember that no bank in Nigeria will ever pay the beneficiary of a testate deceased person solely on the presentation of a Will but also on the presentation of a Grant of Probate.

It is only Insurance Companies in Nigeria that will pay a named-beneficiary without asking for Letters of Administration or Grant of Probate. However, if another person who is not the named-beneficiary comes forward to be paid the Death Claims, the Insurance Companies shall request from such person a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.

My candid advice for married people is that they make their spouses co-signatories to their bank accounts so that at the demise of any of them, the other will not have to be financially constrained but continues to operate the account.

Remember that the law says that upon the death of a person, it is illegal for anybody including a family member of a deceased person, to withdraw money from the account of a deceased person. No bank or financial institution will release any money to the beneficiaries, even to pay for the funeral expenses without the beneficiaries first producing a Grant of Probate (where the deceased died testate) or Letters of Administration (where there is no Will).

EUCHARIA BENNYBONNY is a Senior Lawyer, with offices both at Ikeja and Badagry. She can be reached on 08066053162, [email protected]

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