What happens to my bank account if I die?

Jacob Joseph 29 August 2016

deceased estates

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

In the event of death, the deceased’s bank accounts are closed. Any remaining funds will be paid out in accordance to the deceased’s 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.

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.

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.

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Required documents

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.

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

  1. A death certificate
  2. 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.

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4 Responses

  1. 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.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

  2. 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.

    • Staff
      LiezlJuly 28, 2017Staff

      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.

      Cheers,
      Liezl

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