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How Long Do Banks Take to Release Money after Probate?

10 May 2018

All banks have a threshold of how much money they can release from a deceased person’s account without a Grant of Probate. If Probate is required then the Grant of Probate will need to be obtained before the banks will release the money. Once the bank has all of the necessary documents, the funds will usually be released within 10 to 15 working days.

Notifying the Bank of the Death

When a loved one dies in England or Wales, it’s necessary to contact their bank and any other financial institutions to notify them of the death of the account holder. This becomes the responsibility of an Executor (if there is a Will) or if there is not a Will, then this falls to the next of kin or the appointed administrator of the Estate.

The bank will need to be provided with an original or certified copy of the death certificate. This will allow them to freeze the person’s account/s, stopping any future direct debit or standing order payments from being made. Some banks will be able to provide a list of all accounts held with them in the name of the deceased, along with the balance of these accounts at the date of the death.

Is Probate Needed?

Sometimes a Grant of Probate will be required before the bank will close the deceased person’s account and release the funds. Each bank has its own threshold for how much money they will release without a Grant of Probate. This can vary significantly between banks, so you’ll need to establish the threshold of the bank in question to check whether a Grant of Probate will be needed.

With our Probate Complete Service we take full responsibility for getting Grant of Probate and dealing with the Legal, Tax (excluding VAT), Property and Estate Administration affairs*.

*We can also pay all the costs of a Co-op Funeralcare funeral, providing the Estate owns sufficient assets which can be sold in due course to repay our costs.

Closing Bank Accounts and Releasing Funds

Each bank or financial institution will have its own requirements for closing the accounts of a deceased person. The bank will specify which documents they require from you in order to close the account and release the funds.

Any joint bank accounts that are held with a deceased person are usually updated into the sole name of the surviving account holder and new bank cards may be issued, dependent on the bank’s policies.

For accounts held in the deceased’s sole name, if the balance is below the bank’s threshold and a Grant of Probate is not required, the bank may agree to release the funds after seeing the death certificate, a copy of the Will (if there is one) and identification of the Executor/s.

All banks and financial institutions have a legal duty to protect their customers, this includes protecting the financial information of the deceased customer. If the bank or financial institution does not require a Grant of Probate, they may still ask the Executor / Administrator of the Estate to sign what’s called an indemnity. The purpose of the indemnity is to protect the financial institution if it later turns out that the money has been paid to the wrong person.

If a Grant of Probate Is Needed

If the Grant of Probate is required, funds will not be released until this is received. That being said, they may still be able to release funds in the meantime to cover the cost of the funeral or to pay an Inheritance Tax bill. Subject to certain conditions, banks or building societies can release money to pay for the funeral (upon receipt of a funeral bill) or pay Inheritance Tax, providing there are sufficient funds held in the deceased’s account.

Once you have obtained the Grant of Probate, a Court sealed copy needs to be sent to each financial institution along with the completed closure form and the death certificate (either an original or certified copy). The bank may also request additional proof of your identity, such as copy of your bank statement or a utility bill.

Releasing the Funds

Please note that any incomplete or missing documents will often cause delays. It is always worth double checking before sending back any documents to banks or other financial institutions.

Once the financial institution has received all required documentation and they have offset any accounts where the balance is in debit, they can then release the money. The funds will usually be released in the name of the 'Estate of the late' deceased person within 10 to 15 working days of the receipt of the documentation.

The quickest way to receive funds is by a direct transfer within the same bank. You should allow additional time for transfers into an account held with a different bank or for cheque payments.

Co-op Legal Services is the largest provider of Probate and Estate Administration services in England and Wales, trusted to deal with over £1.3 billion in Estates annually.

Our Probate team includes over 170 staff of specialist Probate Solicitors, Lawyers, Case Handlers, Advisors and our national network of Probate Consultants; all of whom only deal with Probate.

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