A brokerage account into which the account holder places assets while maintaining control of them, with the proviso that the assets pass on to beneficiaries after the account holder's death. That is, the account holder maintains the ability to invest, profit from, or otherwise use the securities and other assets in the transferable-on-death account. The assets in the account pass on to the beneficiary following the death of the account holder. This helps the beneficiary avoid the sometimes lengthy probate process. However, because the account holder maintained the rights of ownership (though not ownership itself), the account is subject to the estate tax. See also: Totten trust.


A securities or brokerage account titled transferable-on-death (TOD) lets you name one or more beneficiaries, to whom the account assets are transferred when you die. TOD accounts are available only in some states, and laws may vary.

Nonetheless, TOD accounts can be useful estate planning tools where they are available, since the assets in the account can pass to your beneficiaries directly, outside the probate process.

A similar type of registration is available in some states for bank accounts. They're known as payable-on-death, or POD, accounts.