This is what happens to your bank account after death | Finder

What happens to my bank account if I die?

Deceased estates: Find out what happens to bank accounts after death.

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In the event of death, the deceased’s bank accounts are closed. Any remaining money will be paid out in line with what the deceased requested on their will, which is a legally binding document that outlines 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.

Notify the bank

Contact the financial institution to start the process of settling the deceased's bank accounts. The financial institution will provide a letter advising of the next steps once they have received notice of death. 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

If the deceased has not left a will, the state or territory Supreme Court will need to appoint an estate administrator. The Supreme Court will issue a Probate/Letter of Administration, which 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 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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20 Responses

    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.


    Default Gravatar
    JayApril 18, 2019


    My dad died about two weeks ago and he didn’t leave a will and now the account is ceased.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniApril 20, 2019Staff

      Hi Jay,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder and sorry to hear about your loss.

      Since there is no will, ownership of the account and its assets will be transferred to the next of kin or estate administrator. I suggest that you seek professional advice from a lawyer on this matter.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!


    Default Gravatar
    SaiApril 2, 2019

    My father was passed away 16 months ago,
    I disturbed so much, and i never had a thought of account holder can also get accidental death insurance from bank as he had a account holder and ATM debit card holders,
    Can u please guide me, hiw to claim, how can i get it now a insurance amount.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JohnApril 3, 2019Staff

      Hi Sai,

      Thank you for reaching out to Finder.

      First, you would need to contact the bank where your father has an account and inform them of what happened. Second, they may require you to submit documents that evidence what happened. Hope this gets you started.


    Default Gravatar
    BeccaOctober 6, 2018

    My mom passed away many years you can imagine at the time i was distraught,and never gave a thought to her account..just recently I moved and found all her old cancelled I decided to find out about her account..When I looked up the bank I couldn’t find it..I believe it has closed down..How do I find out what happened to my mom’s account,or money she may have had left?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaOctober 7, 2018Staff

      Hi Becca,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      Generally, your mom’s account will be closed and then any remaining money will be paid out according to your mom’s will. If in case there’s no will, the fund will be given to the next of kin or estate administrator.

      What you can do is directly get in touch with your mom’s bank. They should be able to tell you more details about your mom’s account.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!


    Default Gravatar
    julieSeptember 28, 2018

    My parent has just passed and had more than 50,000 in the account anything over the 50,000 is their tax or anything that has to be paid on the rest of the money?

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiSeptember 28, 2018

      Hi Julie!

      Thanks for your message and for contacting finder.

      Sorry to hear about your parents passing. There are no taxes involved in regards to a deceased bank account. Normally, when an owner of a bank account passes, the financial institution would need documents as stated above and will process to close the bank account provided there are no arrears or pending payments. Should there be any, those will need to be paid off and the remaining amount will be transferred to the deceased nearest kin.

      Hope this helps! Feel free to message us should you have any questions.


    Default Gravatar
    ElSeptember 4, 2018

    Does a bank has to pay interest for the frozen money of a deceased person?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JohnSeptember 4, 2018Staff

      Hi El,

      Thank you for leaving a question.

      The bank will pay interest on a bank account up until the date of death of the account holder. After notification has been received about the death, the account will be frozen while waiting for direction from the authorized court regarding payment to heirs and creditors or until the last will has been reviewed and has been acted on. Hope this helps!


    Default Gravatar
    RalphFebruary 10, 2018

    How do I find out if my deceased father has a Swiss bank account? I have no paper reference.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      RenchFebruary 28, 2018Staff

      Hi Ralph,

      Thanks for reaching out to us. I’m sorry for your loss. The article above contains some useful information to your situation.

      Yes, it could be hard to find out if you do not have pertinent documents to show to prove your relationship with your father as well as a will that states you can access his account after his death (if ever he had an account with Swiss Bank). Although you may try contacting the bank directly and confirm, just in case. In indeed your father has an account with them, the bank would however transfer your father’s account to his next of kin or estate administrator if he doesn’t have a will.

      Best regards,

    Default Gravatar
    MarySeptember 26, 2017

    What is “point of death” in reference to accounts and estate planning? How do I instruct my bank to make sure my accounts transfer at point of death?

      Default Gravatar
      JonathanSeptember 26, 2017

      Hello Mary,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      You may be likely referring to the date in which your assets will proceed through probate process.

      This is initiated at the time they receive the notice of death. Generally, we cannot instruct the bank as this is patterned after on the type of bank account you have. Usually for “in-trust” accounts, the ownership automatically gets assigned to who it was designated for, while joint account gets owned entirely by the surviving person. Now for single accounts, they become part of the deceased estate, together with other assets. This is where the deceased administrator or probate attorney would step in.

      You can refer to your Product Terms and Conditions given during account opening or talk to a bank officer if you need further clarification. Alternatively, you can also discuss this with a financial adviser or a legal expert.

      Hope this helps.


    Default Gravatar
    GaryJuly 28, 2017

    My wife and I have several joint bank accounts. If one of us should die how do we handle the account. Does the remaining partner have access to all of the joint accounts immediately.
    We have heard from friends that if one partner dies, the account is frozen until probate is finalised.

      Default Gravatar
      LiezlJuly 28, 2017

      Hi Gary,

      Thanks for your question.

      If one of the joint account holders passes away, the ownership of the account will be transferred to the surviving account holder. The account will continue to function as normal. The bank will not freeze the funds in a joint account because they belong to both account holders equally, except for exceptional cases. You may refer to the article I sent to your email for more information on this.


      Default Gravatar
      KarenAugust 15, 2018

      What happens to a joint account when one party dies?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JhezAugust 25, 2018Staff

      Hello Karen,

      Thank you for your comment.

      The bank will not freeze the funds in a joint account since they belong to both account holders equally. Ownership of the funds in a joint account will usually revert to the surviving account holder on the death of the other.

      If the account requires the signature of both parties, then upon the death of one party, the other will not be able to withdraw money from the account until a death certificate is provided to the bank. If the account requires the signature of just one party, the surviving party will be able to access the account as normal. In either case, once the death certificate is provided to the bank the account will become a single account in the name of the surviving party alone.

      Should you wish to have real-time answers to your questions, try our chat box on the lower right corner of our page.


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