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Is Your Cash Safe at the Bank?

The FDIC covers up to $100,000 in a personal account, up to $100,000 per person from a joint account and up to $250,000 in retirement funds. As President Bush said on Tuesday, "You don't have to worry about it if you've got less than $100,000 in the bank," though that's cold comfort for those who saved up a large retirement nest egg -- or simply a lot of money -- and stored it all in one spot.

The California Society of CPAs reminds consumers that while checking, savings, CDs and retirement accounts are all insured, mutual funds, annuities, stocks, bonds, Treasury notes and other investment products are not. Money-market deposit accounts are covered, but money-market mutual funds are not. The contents of safe-deposit boxes also are not FDIC insured.

Consumers with several accounts at one bank -- personal, joint and retirement -- should make sure to distribute their funds to get the most protection. For instance, if a personal account has $120,000, but the joint account has $100,000, a customer can transfer at least $20,000 into the joint fund to be fully insured.

Another special case is presented by revocable trust accounts, which are meant to be passed along to beneficiaries after the owner's death. These accounts can be insured up to $100,000 for each qualifying beneficiary, with certain conditions.

It's also important to remember that if two people hold a joint account and one dies, the survivor has six months to restructure the account. After that, the account is combined with the survivor's single-ownership deposits, back down to the $100,000 limit.
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