Answered on Nov 14th, 2012 at 4:39 PM
Usually, but not necessarily always payable on death. The account agreement (the document that governs the terms of the account as between the person who set the account up and the bank or other financial institution) needs to be checked to see whether the balance is payable on death of the original account holder, or only later, and perhaps only on certain terms and conditions. An account may be set up with no specification of what happens to the balance on the death of the account holder. In such situations, the balance in the account is most likely part of the person's estate, and will end up as directed by the deceased's last will and testament or if died without one, then per the state's intestacy laws, laws that direct to which family members, in what order of preference, the deceased's assets should go.