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What happens to my bank account if I die?

If you die your bank account will be closed and any money in the account will be paid out in line with what you've requested in your will.

Whether you're worried about what will happen to your money, or someone close to you has passed away, it is important to know what happens to bank accounts when someone dies. There are processes in place to help make this difficult time run a little easier, regardless of whether there is a will involved or not.

What will happen to my bank account if I die?

In the event of death, the deceased's bank accounts are closed by the bank. Before that, any remaining money will be paid out in line with what was requested in their will, which is a legally binding document outlining who gets the deceased's assets following death.

If there is no will, ownership of the account and its assets will be transferred to the next of kin or estate administrator. It's important to note that any credit card debt or personal loan debt will be paid from the deceased's bank and savings accounts before the account administrator takes control of any assets.

If you don't yet have a will created, you can get started making a will on the Service NSW website online.

How do I claim a bank account when someone dies?

If someone you know has passed away, one person will need to be nominated as the executor of the will. They will need to contact the bank to start the process of settling the deceased's bank accounts.

The bank will then send a letter advising of next steps. But before the deceased's estate can be settled and their bank accounts closed, the financial institution needs documents showing proof of death, and identification from the next of kin proving their authority over the deceased's estate.

Required documents for proof of death

The following documents must be provided before the financial institution can close or transfer ownership of the account(s):

  • A death certificate
  • Letter of Administration (if applicable)

Some financial institutions will accept the following, or a combination of the following documents as proof of death:

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

Finder survey: How many savings accounts do Australians have?

Response
154.43%
230.67%
38.21%
43.02%
51.73%
60.86%
00.32%
100.32%
70.22%
80.22%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1113 Australians, December 2023

What happens to a bank account if someone dies without a will?

If the deceased has not left a will, a spouse or next of kind can apply for a Probate/Letter of Administration from the state or territory's Supreme Court. As an estate administrator, this person will be responsible for collecting all the assets, paying any debts, and then distributing assets to the beneficiaries.

The Probate/Letter of Administration needs to be provided to the financial institution along with the death certificate.

Once the financial institution has all the information it needs to satisfy its requirements, if the account is held solely in the name of the deceased, account access is restricted, a certificate of balance is issued, the money will be paid out, and the account is closed.

Frequently asked questions about deceased estates

What happens to joint bank accounts?

If the bank account is held jointly, ownership of the account will be transferred to the other primary account holder. The account will continue to function as normal.

What happens to credit card debt?

If the deceased has credit card debt or personal loan debt, the balance of these debts will be paid from the deceased’s transaction and savings accounts before the funds are released.

What happens to term deposits?

A term deposit investment can be released before the date of maturity once the financial institution gets all the necessary paperwork, declaring the person has passed away. Fees and charges are waived and any interest owed on the investment is paid.

What happens to my home loan if I die?

To find out what happens to your home loan in the event of your death, we suggest you read our guide on this topic.

How long does it take for an account to be settled and closed?

Financial institutions advise that each case is different. We suggest you contact your financial institution for further information.

More guides on Finder

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28 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    GhodaivaFebruary 22, 2023

    I knew a woman she is a single mum divorce and her son grow up with one of my friend son , she doesn’t have any family in australia , she was only relying to a friend of mine helping her with her son while she’s at work or anytime she need baby sit her son. This woman passed away due to cancer , she did not have any Will , she wrote letter about her asset but only by hand writing and it’s not legal as she did not get through lawyer. Is my friend has legal right to use her bank account to use for the expenses of her death ?

      AvatarFinder
      AlisonFebruary 28, 2023Finder

      Hi Ghodaiva,
      For personal advice on this situation we advise you to speak with an estate lawyer or solicitor.
      Thanks,
      Alison

    Default Gravatar
    JessicaSeptember 29, 2022

    My father passed away 2 weeks ago. No will. Trying to get things sorted. I am the next of kin-Being the eldest daughter. I have spoken with his bank and I believe they have frozen his account, as I requested. What do I need to do, what documents do I need to close out my daddy’s bank account? I do know I have to have his death certificate and my license; anything else?

      AvatarFinder
      AlisonOctober 29, 2022Finder

      Hi Jessica,

      I’m sorry to hear about your father.

      Yes, you’re correct, a death certificate is needed. In some cases, a letter of administration might be needed. If you need further details, you might want to get in touch with your bank.

      Regards,
      Alison

    Default Gravatar
    NickMay 10, 2022

    Can a next of kin get access to the bank statements of their father’s bank account after he dies?

      AvatarFinder
      AlisonMay 16, 2022Finder

      Hi Nick,

      Yes, that’s possible through a will. If there’s no will, the assets would be given to the next of kin or estate administrator.

      It is best you get legal advice in this matter.

      Regards,
      Alison

    Default Gravatar
    bjApril 2, 2022

    Hi
    Is it illegal for the executer of the will to just pay out the beneficiaries without telling the bank that the person has died?
    Thanks

      AvatarFinder
      AlisonApril 6, 2022Finder

      Hi BJ,

      While it is the executor’s responsibility to contact the bank to notify them of the death of the account holder, the legality of the executor’s inaction is best discussed with a legal counsel or a lawyer.

      Depending on the state you’re in, if the executor has breached their duties, action can be taken against them in the Supreme Court.

      Best,
      Alison

    Default Gravatar
    MarkJune 27, 2019

    Hi, my wife had enduring power of attorney over her deceased mothers estate, which as you know is canceled on death, there is money in the account , and have received a bank cheque from the sale of property, they tried to deposit into the existing account and have been told by the bank they need to open a new account, and it will take a month to clear . Confused, we are. Regards Mark

      Default Gravatar
      EllieJune 28, 2019

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for contacting Finder and sorry for your loss.

      Whilst requirements vary between estates and each case is assessed separately, you may seek independent legal advice to discuss your individual circumstances. Hope this helps.

      Regards,
      Ellie

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