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

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.

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

Financial institutions advise that each case is different. Contact your financial institution for further information.

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2 Responses

  1. 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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