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How to close a loved one’s bank account

Banks have procedures in place to ensure you can properly manage your loved one’s finances. And whether they left a will or not, the government makes it simple to apply for the needed probate or letters of administration.

Who can close a bank account when someone dies?

Joint bank accounts can transfer to the other account holder(s) when someone passes away, however unshared accounts can only be closed by the deceased’s personal representative.

The personal representative is usually the executor(s) of the will and will need to apply for a grant of probate on GOV.UK or from the nearest probate office, which can be done by phone and post. The grant of probate should be presented to your loved one’s bank or building society in order to gain access to their account.

The bank may also ask for several other documents including the death certificate, a birth or marriage certificate, a certified copy of the will if one exists and multiple proofs of identity. Read the ‘Who do I notify?’ section to find out more.

It’s important to be aware there’s a £215 fee to apply for a grant of probate if the value of your loved one’s estate exceeds £5,000.

Up to four executors can be named on a grant of probate. However, if there is no will or appointed executors, the role of personal representative instead falls to the administrator of the estate.

The administrator is the closest family member to the deceased who is willing to be the personal representative. They must apply for letters of administration, which is a similar process to applying for a grant of probate and can be done on GOV.UK or through a probate office.

The Courts and Tribunals Service Centre offers a free live chat to answer questions about applying for probate or letters of administration.

Who do I notify?

You should first register the death of your loved one before attempting to handle their finances, which can be done through GOV.UK.

It’s advised to then end any recurring payments your loved one has set up, such as subscriptions, loans and bills, as your bank will eventually cease money going in and out of their account.

You can do this by contacting each company or organisation affected and informing them of your loved one’s death, showing them the death certificate where required.

The bank is likely to ask for several documents when closing the account, including the death certificate, evidence of your relationship with the deceased (such as a birth or marriage certificate), a certified copy of the will if one exists and two proofs of identity.

Every bank handles account closures differently, so check their help centres if you’re unsure about what documents you should bring.

Chelmsford Star Co-op Funeral Directors can help recommend solicitors and probate specialists to help you gain the right to close your loved one’s bank account. Please get in touch to find out more.

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