How to manage deceased bank accounts

When the unthinkable happens and a loved one passes, there are a number of challenging decisions to be made. From funeral arrangements, choosing a final resting place, informing friends and family and to settling the deceased’s estate, there are many tasks to organise.

One thing you may not have considered is what will happen to your loved one’s bank accounts. To help remove some of the confusion that comes with this difficult time, we run through what happens and how to close a bank account of a deceased person.

 

How happens to my bank account after I die?

Once a person has died, their bank accounts are typically cancelled by a next of kin, or executor of the will. Dependant on what the individual outlined in their will, any remaining money will be paid out according to their wishes. An individual’s last will and testament is a legally binding document and determines who receives the deceased’s assets upon their death.

If your loved one has no will, then ownership of their bank account is transferred to an estate administrator or next of kin. It’s important to note that before this process takes place, any outstanding personal loan or credit card debts held by the deceased will be paid by their remaining savings.

 

How to access the bank accounts the deceased

Accessing a deceased estate bank account begins with notifying the respective financial institution to get the process started. Before they settle a deceased estate bank account or a deceased spouse bank account, they will require proof of death and any next of kin will need to supply identification proving they are the ones to inherit the deceased’s bank accounts.

If you’re wondering how to claim money from the bank after a death, you will need to provide a death certificate for the deceased, and possibly a letter of administration if required. If you don’t have the death certificate, some banks may accept a combination of the below as proof of death:

  • Solicitor or coroner letter
  • Funeral bill
  • Medical certificate
  • Probate bond
  • Grant of probate

 

How to close a bank account of a deceased person

If your loved one didn’t leave behind a will; you might be wondering how to close their bank account. In this situation, the Supreme Court will typically appoint an estate administrator to oversee this process. This individual will be provided with a Probate/Letter of Administration by the courts which in turn needs to be shown to the relevant financial institution along with the death certificate.

Once the financial institution has all the require documentation, account access is restricted until a certificate of balance is issued and the account closed for good. In the event that you have a joint bank account with the deceased, you will have to go through this same process to gain complete ownership of the account.

Some bank accounts offer ‘rights of survivorship’ – which allows the next of kin to simply present their loved one’s death certificate to claim ownership of the previously joint account. Not all financial institutions offer automatic rights of survivorship, however, so make sure to check this with your banking institution.

 

Other accounts to consider

Usually it falls to the next of kin or the executor of the will to notify any relevant organisations, service providers and other groups of the deceased’s passing. This includes notifying:

  • The post office to redirect all mail
  • Superannuation provider
  • Centrelink
  • Religious organisations
  • Local governments
  • Any home delivery services
  • In-home services such as nurses or trainers

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