Notifying the bank
As an executor or next of kin you must contact the deceased person's financial institution to notify them of the death of the account holder.
Notifying the bank
You can notify the bank that the account holder has died by sending them a letter.
Sample letter to the bank
After you notify the bank about the death of the account holder, the bank will provide a list of accounts held in the name of the deceased, along with the balances of these accounts, at the date of the death. The bank will also freeze any further access to these accounts and calculate any interest to the date of death.
You should check the statements to see whether there were any regular payments to or from a service provider or person and notify them of the death of the account holder.
Each bank or financial institution will have its own requirements for closing the accounts of a deceased person. If the amount of money in the account is large, the bank may require Probate or Letters of Administration before it will pay out the money in the account. You should check with each bank or financial institution what their requirements are.
Before closing the deceased's accounts the bank may ask you to:
- provide a certified copy of the death certificate
- provide a copy of the will (if probate is not being applied for) or a copy of the Letters of Administration or Probate
- provide other documents to verify your identity and relationship to the deceased
- complete a form, sometimes called a 'small estate indemnity' if the amount of money in the account is small.
When money is paid out of the deceased's bank account, a cheque is usually made by the bank to the 'Estate of the late' deceased person. This cheque will need to be deposited into an estate bank account or a solicitor's trust account.
Joint savings accounts
If the deceased held joint bank accounts with another person then the other person is entitled to the money held in the account as the surviving account holder. To close the joint account, the surviving account holder will usually need to provide a certified copy of the death certificate to the bank, close the joint account and transfer the money to an account in their name only.
Home loan accounts
Home loan accounts may be in:
- the deceased's sole name, or
- joint names.
Home loan accounts in the deceased's sole name
If the home loan account is in the name of the deceased only, the executor or next of kin must tell the bank or financial institution without delay. The bank may agree to defer home loan repayments for a period of time or may discuss other options with you. Probate or Letters of Administration will have to be obtained so that the executor or next of kin can legally deal with the property.
Home loans or mortgages are secured loans. The property that the loan relates to cannot be transferred to another person without first dealing with the loan. This means that the mortgage must either be paid out or refinanced before the property can be transferred.
If the deceased said in their will that the property was to be transferred to a beneficiary, the beneficiary must refinance the existing mortgage into their own name when the property is transferred to them.
If a beneficiary cannot afford to refinance the mortgage on the property, the property may have to be sold, the mortgage repaid and the remainder of the proceeds of sale, after deduction of costs of the sale and any other estate expenses, will be paid to the beneficiary.
Home loan accounts in joint names
If the deceased held a joint home loan or mortgage account with another person ('surviving account holder'), the bank will not immediately remove the deceased's name from the home loan account. The surviving account holder is still responsible to continue making repayments for the loan otherwise the bank can take legal action for possession of the home.
To have the deceased's name removed from the home loan account, the surviving account holder may need to refinance the mortgage into their own name. The surviving account holder should discuss this with their bank or financial institution.
If the deceased owned property as 'tenant in common', the deceased person's share of the property will be part of their estate. An executor will deal with the deceased's share in the property as set out in the will or with the rules of intestacy. If the surviving owner is entitled to the whole of the deceased's share of the property, the surviving owner can refinance the mortgage and have the deceased's share transferred ('transmitted' into their sole name).
If the property is owned by the deceased and another person as 'oint tenants'then a Notice of Death and certified copy of the Death Certificate can be registered with Land & Property NSW to remove the deceased's name from the Certificate of Title and transfer the property into the surviving joint tenant's name. This can be done when the refinance of the mortgage occurs.
If you own a property with a deceased person and if you want to transfer it in your own name, you should get
If you cannot afford to continue paying the home loan repayments you should speak with your financial institution and get
legal advice. You may have options to refinance if you want to keep the property or to request a reduction or deferral of repayments while you make arrangements to sell the property.