I am posting this article as a public service message to people over the age of 50 who may still possess some U.S. savings bonds.
My mother left my sister and I some U.S. savings bonds when she passed away at the end of March. Trying to dispose of them has been a real challenge. If you hold bonds today, do your kids a favor by cashing them in now.
My mom was from a generation which considered savings bonds to be a patriotic duty. In the past, banks sold bonds directly, and people could cash them in at the bank. Not so any more. All bonds sold today are electronic, which is nothing more than an online savings account, for which you can’t easily access your money.
For paper bonds, they have to be signed and mailed in to the U.S. Treasury. It’s as risky as mailing money. I used Priority Mail to ensure they were tracked.
If you’re cashing more than $1,000 in bonds, then a special form has to be completed listing the bond numbers and issue dates. Your signature must be notarized before sending everything to the Treasury.
This morning, I received an email from the U.S. Treasury acknowledging receipt of my mother’s bonds. The ESTIMATED time to cash in a bond in my name is SEVEN WEEKS.
Hopefully that’s the case because if it is considered a special circumstance because the bonds were technically in my mother’s name, but payable to me upon her death, then it will be “AT LEAST 20 WEEKS” to process them.
The government won’t issue a check, they will only directly deposit the money into an official bank account.
It is astonishing to me that a $4 trillion entity needs two to five months to cash in $3,000 worth of savings bonds. That amounts to 0.00000000075% of total federal government revenue, and really demonstrates the precarious financial condition of the federal government today.
I am sure the problem is exacerbated by the fact the U.S. government has already spent $1.8 trillion more than it plans to bring in from taxes this year. In fact, the national debt stands at $32 TRILLION at the moment.
So, sell your U.S. savings bonds today!
They are generating only 1.5% interest, and that is paid out only twice a year. If everything goes wonky with the economy and the federal government becomes insolvent, who would be paid first? Would it be corporations and contractors, local government entities, federal workers, or you?
The U.S. Treasury provides detailed instructions for cashing in various paper and electronic bonds.
The instructions are needlessly complicated to the point you may need personalized assistance to understand exactly what to do. Calling the help line may take hours to get a response, unless you are first in line when it opens at 8 a.m. Eastern time Monday through Friday. The Help Center closes promptly at 4:30 p.m. Eastern time.
My sister in Wisconsin was on hold for 90 minutes one day before she had to return to work without getting an answer. I called at 5 a.m. Arizona time and received help within 15 minutes.
You bought U.S. savings bonds as a nest egg for your children, but savings bonds may not be as secure an investment as you thought, in my humble opinion.
After closing his business and enduring several painful years of uncertainty regarding what to do with his life, Greg founded Forward From 50 to help men and women over 50 to live more purposeful lives by pursuing things they are passionate about. A Wisconsin native, Greg currently lives in Arizona.