What happens to a deceased person’s bank account? PKWA Probate Lawyers explain what you should do to get access to the bank accounts if your spouse has unfortunately just passed away.
Accessing deceased spouse bank account – What happens to a deceased person’s bank account?
At PKWA Probate Law, we provide legal guidance for clients after the death of a loved one. Commonly, family members do not know what they should do during this difficult time. They usually want to know: “How do I gain access his assets to pay the bills?”
PKWA Law one of the largest specialist family probate law firms in Singapore. After your loved one’s death, we help you to deal with the legal aspects of the deceased estate. We help you to unlock the assets belonging to the deceased so that you and your family can have access to the bank accounts, stocks, properties and other assets and distribute them to the rightful beneficiaries.
In this article, we explore what happens with the bank account that is held solely by the deceased.
To access the deceased’s bank accounts, the first thing you need to check is if your spouse had left behind a will when he died.
If a person dies without a will
If a deceased person did not leave behind a will, the next of kin (usually, the wife or one of the children) must apply to the court to obtain Letters of Administration. The person applying for Letters of Administration will be named as the Administrator of the estate.
At PKWA Law, we have been doing probate for the past 30 years, and our experience means that we are usually able to obtain the Letter of Administration within 6 weeks. Our fees for obtaining a straightforward Letter of Administration are fixed at $1,500 (excluding disbursements and GST).
At the bank
Once we have filed your application for probate in the court, we should be able to obtain your Letter of Administration within 2 months. Once you have obtained the Letter of Administration, you (as the Administrator of the Estate) should then:
go to the bank
produce your NRIC card to prove that you are the named Administrator in the will and the Letter of Administration.
produce the Letter of Administration
instruct the bank to release the money in the deceased bank account to you.
The bank will normally release the deceased person’s money to the Administrator by issuing a cheque made payable to “the Estate of [the deceased person’s name].
The Administrator should open a fresh bank account that is in the name of “the Estate of [the deceased person name]. All monies dealing with the deceased person’s estate should be banked in or out of this account so that it is not mixed up with the Administrator’s own money.
Distribution of the money
After the Administrator has paid the deceased person’s debts, and collected all assets, he then distributes the monies in the bank account following the Intestate Succession Act.
The law on intestacy (or the law of inheritance when you don’t have a will) vary greatly depending on whether you were single or married, or had children. In most cases, your property will be distributed to your next of kin which could include your surviving spouse, parents, siblings, aunts and uncles. Generally, when no relatives can be found, the entire estate goes to the state.
Thus, in summary, to access the bank accounts of a deceased person who died without a will, the Administrator must obtain Letters of Administration so that the banks will released the monies to him for him to distribute to the lawful beneficiaries.
If a person dies and has a will
If a person dies and has a will, the executor named in the will must apply to the court to obtain Grant of Probate. A Grant of Probate is a court order issued by the Family Justice Court, which means that the deceased’s original will is authentic, and the appointed Executor should carry out the deceased last wishes as stated in the Will.
At PKWA Law, we have been doing probate for the past 30 years, and our experience means that we are usually able to obtain Grant of Probate within 6 weeks. At PKWA Law, our fees for obtaining a straightforward Grant of Probate are fixed at $1,200 (excluding disbursements and GST).
At the bank & distribution of the money
Once the executor has obtained Grant of Probate, he:
goes to the bank
produces his NRIC card to prove that he is the named Executor in the will and the Grant of Probate.
Produce the Grant of Probate.
Instructs the bank to release the money in the deceased bank account to him.
The same process is then repeated – the bank issues a cheque to the Executor in the estate name. The Executor should open a fresh bank account in the estate name and release the monies to the named beneficiaries in the will after all debts have been paid.
At PKWA Law, our team of Family Lawyers are consistently named as leading Singapore family lawyers by respected independent legal publications such as Asian Legal Business, Singapore Business Review, Global Law Experts and Doyle’s Guide to Singapore Family Lawyers.
Contact us at tel 6854-5336 for a free first consultation.
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