What Happens to a Person’s Bank Account When they Die?


When a loved one dies, it’s usually a close family member who will be responsible for sorting out their finances and notifying the bank of their death. You’ll need to complete a few steps first to make sure you have the right paperwork to do so, which we explain below.

If the total value of the deceased persons’ assets exceeds £5,000 then Probate may be needed.

Our Probate Solicitors are here to help you through every step of the Probate process which could take a year to complete. We offer a flexible approach tailored to your individual needs, so we can do as much or as little of the work required as you need us to.

Losing a loved one is never easy, and having to deal with their finances on top of it all can sometimes feel too much. You don’t have to take on all the responsibilities alone. Contact our Probate Solicitors for free initial legal advice.

Call us on 0808 239 4634 or request a callback

How to Close a Bank Account after Someone Dies

Most banks in England and Wales will ask you to provide a Grant of Representation document to close any bank accounts. This will either be a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration depending on whether or not your loved one left a Will.

Both of these documents give you the legal right to deal with their finances. Banks will usually need to see a Grant of Representation if the amount of money in the account is over a certain threshold. Thresholds vary from bank to bank so you’ll need to check the limit with your loved one’s bank provider. Generally it can range from £15,000 to £50,000.

If there’s only a small sum of money in the bank account and it’s under the threshold, then the bank may choose to just release the funds straight away without seeing a Grant of Representation, but some banks may still ask for one regardless.  

Who is Responsible for Closing the Bank Account?

If There is a Will

The named Executor in the Will is the one who will usually be responsible for notifying the bank and closing the account. They’ll need to give the bank a copy of the Death Certificate and the Will to prove that they’ve got the legal right to close the account.

If There is No Will

If the person who died didn’t leave behind a Will, or if the Executor is unwilling to take on the responsibility for whatever reason, then it’ll be the Administrator of the Estate who will sort out the finances.

The Administrator of the Estate will need to show another form of proof to the bank in place of the Will, to show their relationship to the person who died.

If it’s a Joint Account

Any money left in the joint bank account will automatically transfer to the other account holder. But it’s still worth getting in touch with the bank anyway just in case the account gets frozen.

What is the Process?

  1. Register the death at your loved one’s local register office within 5 days of their death. They’ll give you a copy of the death certificate.
  2. Apply for Grant of Representation (Probate) – If there’s a Will, the named Executor or Administrator needs to apply for a Grant of Probate. If there isn’t a Will, then you’ll need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration. Both of these give you the power to deal with your loved one’s Estate.
  3. Inform the bank – Once you have the Death Certificate and Grant of Representation you can then inform your loved one’s bank provider and ask them to close the account.
  4. Contact other providers – If you’re tasked with closing your loved one’s bank account, you’ll probably also be responsible for notifying any utility companies, insurers, as well as the Department for Work and Pensions.
  5. Pay any outstanding debts - Any debts such as mortgages, loans, overdrafts and credit cards need to be paid off before the Estate is distributed to Beneficiaries.

If you need help with applying for Probate, or any other part of the Probate process, we can help you. We offer a Full Probate Service and a Grant of Probate Application only service, so you can choose an option that suits you.

Get in touch with our Probate Solicitors today to see how we can help you.

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