Closing a bank account after a death can feel a bit daunting, but banks usually do their best to make the process as quick and as painless as possible.

While every bank is slightly different, we’ve put together this guide to explain what happens to a bank account when someone dies, how to close a bank account after a death and, if necessary, what you might need to do to withdraw funds before the account is closed.

 

Who is responsible for closing a bank account after a death?

If the account was a joint account, it will pass directly into the sole name of the other account holder once the bank has been told about the death, so doesn’t have to be closed.

If the account wasn’t shared, then the personal representative of the person who has died will usually be the one to close it. If there is a will, the personal representative is the executor named in the will. If you’re closing a bank account after a death with no will, the personal representative is the administrator of the estate, who is usually also the main beneficiary.

In both cases, the task can be taken on by an estate administration professional acting on the executor or administrator’s behalf.

 

How to close a bank account after a death

1) Register the death. The bank will ask to see the death certificate before closing the account. To get one, you need to register the death at a registry office. If possible, it’s worth using the Tell Us Once Service at the same time to notify various government departments.

2) Notify any organisations that might be affected. Once you’ve notified the bank about a death, they will freeze any payments going in or out of the account. This can be a problem if (for example) the utility companies and insurance companies haven’t yet been informed, so it’s worth reaching out to them first.

3) Notify the bank. Depending on your bank, you may be able to do this over the phone, online, by post or in-person at your local branch. As well as freezing the account, the bank will stop sending post addressed to the person who has died.

4) Share the necessary documents. Once you’ve notified the bank, they will contact you to confirm your next steps. Usually, they will ask for a few documents before they begin the process of releasing funds and closing the deceased’s bank account:

  • The death certificate or coroner’s interim certificate (abbreviated extract in Scotland)
  • Two forms of proof of your identity, such as a passport and a utility bill
  • An original or certified copy of the will (if there is one)
  • Proof of your relationship with the deceased (especially in cases where there is no will)

Do you need a grant of representation to close a bank account after a death?

The bank may also ask for a grant of representation before letting you start withdrawing money from the deceased’s bank account. The grant is a legal document that proves your right to settle the estate of someone who has died.

There are different kinds of grant of representation. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to apply for a grant of probate (if there is a will), or a letter of administration (if not). In you are in Scotland, you will apply for a certificate of confirmation in both instances.

Whether or not a grant of representation is needed will depend both on the amount of money in the account and the bank you’re with. Some banks cap the amount at £15,000, while others will release as much as £50,000 without a grant. It’s best to ask.

If the bank does allow you to access the deceased’s bank account without a grant, they may ask you to sign a discharge and indemnity form. This promises that you will return the money if it turns out you did not have the right to access it after all.

 

Withdrawing money from the deceased’s bank account before getting a grant

Even if you are waiting for a grant of representation, most banks will still allow you to use funds in the account of the person who has died to cover some immediate expenses related to settling their estate. These might be:

Just ask the staff helping you at the bank what the process is.

 

How to find lost bank accounts belonging to the deceased

A surprising number of people lose track of old bank accounts, pensions and investments – there’s an estimated £15 billion in unclaimed assets in the UK alone.

If you have an inkling that a loved one might have had additional funds tucked away somewhere, but you’re not sure where, the guide here can help you find out how to claim the deceased’s bank accounts.

 

Need help?

If you’d like professional help with settling an estate, why not try Beyond? We offer a range of fixed-fee probate and estate administration services to suit any circumstance. Just need help getting the grant of probate? Try our simple £650 option. Want a professional to take on everything that needs to be done, from beginning to end? Our essential service starts at £1,695.

To find out more and get a guaranteed fixed-fee quote in minutes, click here or call us today on 0800 054 9896.

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