HOW TO ACCESS A DECEASED FAMILY MEMBER’S SOLE BANK ACCOUNT
When a loved one has died and has a sole bank account, their bank may ask for proof that you are entitled to deal with their affairs. This is because the bank wants to be sure that they are dealing with the lawful representative.
Normally the executors named in the will need to apply to court to obtain a ‘Grant of Probate’. If there is no will, the next of kin need to apply for and obtain ‘Letters of Administration.
You want to know if there is a will for 2 main reasons. The first is that if there is a will, the wishes of the deceased on the distribution of assets are known. The second reason is that you need to apply for very different court orders depending on whether there is a will or not. See the second step below.
2. Second Step – Apply for Grant of Probate (if there is a will) or Letters of Administration (if there is no will)
This is a legal process that can take 1 to 6 months, depending on your lawyer and the complexity of the case. As such, you may wish to engage an experienced probate lawyer to assist you with this step.
At PKWA Law, our experienced probate lawyers normally obtain probate within 4 to 6 weeks.
Remember – what court document you apply for depends on:
3. Third Step – See the Bank with the Grant of Probate or Letter of Administration and Close the Account
The executor (the person named in the Grant of Probate) or personal representative (the person named in the Letter of Administration) must be present at the bank branch for the closure of the account and release of funds.
Banks will typically require the following documents:
The Original Death Certificate.
Proof of Relationship for all beneficiaries (such as Marriage or Birth Certificate).
Original Grant of Probate (certified true copy by your probate lawyer): or
Grant of Letters of Administration (certified true copy by your probate lawyer)
NRIC or passports of the Executors or Personal Representatives.
Where do I make my application?
For assets worth under $3 million – your probate lawyer will apply at the Family Justice Court.
For assets above $3 million – your probate lawyer will apply at the Family Division of the High Court.
My probate lawyer has asked me for the value of the deceased bank account. What should I do?
If you are the Executor of the estate (as appointed in the Will) or the Personal Administrator (if there is no Will), you may visit any bank branch with the documents below, and the bank may assist you.
Original Death Certificate.
Proof of Relationship (such as a Marriage or Birth Certificate).
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