When a loved one dies in England or Wales, you will need to notufy their bank and release any funds that are being held in their bank account/s. You may need to obtain a Grant of Probate to do this, but it depends on the amount of money in the accounts.
A Grant of Probate is not needed for joint bank accounts, as the funds will pass automatically to the surviving person.
For free practical advice following a bereavement, call 03306069584. We can help you with the practical steps, and if you need Probate, provide a no obligation fixed-fee quotation.
Closing a Loved One’s Bank Account
The Executor of the Will is usually responsible for closing the deceased's bank account. If there is not a valid Will or the Executors are unwilling to act, it should be done by the Administrator of the Estate, who is typically the main Beneficiary. For details see Executor and Administrator Duties explained.
Each bank and financial institution will want to see a copy of the Death Certificate and proof that you have the authority to freeze the bank account. This can be achieved by taking a copy of the Will to show that you are an Executor. Or if there is no Will, you can take evidence that demonstrates your relationship to the deceased.
Once the bank has been notified of the death, the account will be frozen. After this you will need to release the funds. The way in which you do this will depend upon how much money is being held.
Is a Grant of Probate Needed?
If there is a small amount of money in the account, the bank may release the funds immediately. Each bank has their own threshold for Probate, which varies between £15,000 and £50,000, so you will need to check with the bank in question. We have put together a list of the main Bank Limits for Probate.
If the amount of money held with the bank exceeds their limit, they will want to see a Grant of Probate before releasing any money. This is because the bank has a responsibility to release the funds to the right person. If a mistake is made, the bank will be held accountable. The Grant of Probate verifies who is legally permitted to deal with the deceased person’s money.
To obtain a Grant of Probate, the Executor or Administrator will need to apply to the Probate Registry. There are a number of steps to go through, such as filling out the correct forms, paying any tax that is due, and attending a Probate Registry office for an interview and to swear an Oath. Alternatively you can instruct our Probate Solicitors to complete the process on your behalf.
With our Probate Complete Service we take full responsibility for obtaining Grant of Probate and dealing with the Legal, Tax (excl VAT), Property and Estate Administration affairs.
It’s worth noting that even if the amount of money is small, the bank may request a Grant of Probate anyway, particularly if the family situation is unclear or the Estate is complex.
To find out if Probate is needed call our Probate Advisors on 03306069584 or contact us online and we call you.