What happens to my bank account if I die?
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 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.
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