Overview

Learn about why you should open an estate bank account in Australia (also known as deceased estate bank account, or estate of the late account) and everything else about dealing with a deceased’s bank accounts after the death.

By now your Assets & Liabilities Inventory should already capture various assets that you have valued based on the previous Steps. You should have also heard back from the relevant banks you informed about the death in Step 12 – Notify Government Departments & Service Providers of the Death.

To understand and deal with all banking and finance related matters you will need to:
  • determine the total value of all bank accounts;
  • determine the total value of all liabilities;
  • stop any direct debits and automatic transfers;
  • freeze accounts; and
  • open a bank account for the deceased estate.

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19.1 Funeral and Estate Administration Expenses

The administration of a deceased estate incurs costs and can be expensive. Some of these include expenses relating to the funeral, tax, application for the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration with the Supreme Court and any other experienced support needed. Depending on your State/Territory, you can request the deceased person’s bank to pay or refund the ones incurred to this point.

If you have an unpaid invoice or require reimbursement for a settled invoice, you can present these at the deceased person’s bank with other information explained below and request these to be paid on behalf of the estate or reimbursed to the payee.

Note: Once the funds have been transferred into the ‘Estate of the Late’ account, you as the Executor or Administrator of the estate have access to the funds and can make payments or reimbursements directly on behalf of the estate.

19.2 Common Banking Products and Services

Banks and financial institutions provide a wide range of products and services and we have provided the following list for you to ensure you don’t miss anything:
  • Everyday accounts with bank cards
  • Savings accounts with or without bank cards
  • Term deposits
  • Debit cards
  • Credit cards
  • Prepaid debit cards
  • Overdraft facilities
  • Personal loans
  • Mortgage accounts
  • Investment accounts
  • Life insurance products
  • Superannuation products

19.3 Type of Bank Account Ownership

As with all assets and liabilities, the crucial first step is to understand who the owner is. Most assets and liabilities can be held solely in the deceased person’s name or jointly with another person. If the surviving joint owner is still alive, then in most circumstances the specific asset or liability will pass to that other owner.

Every bank account, service agreement or arrangement with a financial institution is usually entered into by one or more persons. Finding out the name(s) on the bank statement or signature(s) on the agreement will help you identify which of the two applies.

The most common bank account ownership types are:

19.3.1 Sole Ownership

As a sole owner of a banking product or service, the Executor, Administrator or Next of Kin will be responsible to understand the total value of all combined assets and liabilities. All assets and liabilities held in the deceased person’s name alone, will need to be transferred to the deceased estate for distribution.

Note: The deceased person may have some banking products or services in their sole name and others jointly with another person. Each product or service should be evaluated and treated separately.

19.3.2 Joint Ownership

As a joint owner of a banking product or service, the assets and liabilities associated will in most cases automatically transfer into the surviving joint owner’s name once the death was confirmed via the Death Certificate.
Exceptions to the automatic transfer to the surviving joint owner may apply for credit cards, personal loans or home and investment loans or where the Will states specific distribution wishes that may come into play if these distributions are in line with your State/Territory’s legislation.

To transfer all jointly held products and services and related assets and liabilities in the surviving owner’s name, you can submit or present a copy of the Death Certificate to the bank (you may have already completed this in Step 12 – Notify Government Departments & Service Providers of the Death). This will prove the death and allow the financial institution to transfer the relevant account, product and/or service into the surviving joint owner’s name.

19.4 Determine what Applies to Your Situation

Once the bank(s) are informed of the death by providing or presenting the Death Certificate and Will, if available, the bank will contact you and guide you through their process.

The bank will review all accounts, products and services held in the deceased person’s name and determine what documentation they need to ascertain the death has occurred, you are an authorised person to deal on behalf of the deceased estate and knowing that funds will be released to the right account.

19.5 Financial Dependence & Hardship

If a person was and continues to be financially dependent on the deceased person and may be experiencing financial hardship. By following this Step, the bank will put a hold on all accounts solely in the deceased person’s name and transfer jointly owned accounts to the surviving joint owner. Funds will no longer be accessible.

Refer to Step 9 – Request Allowances & Government Support for more information about financial help that may be available.

19.6 Power of Attorney

You or someone in the deceased person’s family may have been authorised by the deceased person to act as Power of Attorney on their behalf for private, business or other matters. A Power of Attorney often has complete access to bank accounts.

Note: A Power of Attorney ends immediately upon the death of the person giving another person authority to act as Power of Attorney.

To ensure that you as the Executor, Administrator or Next of Kin have complete oversight over financial outgoings that were made before the death of the deceased person, it is recommended to review bank statements in detail to check for unusual amounts being paid or transferred from the deceased person’s accounts. If the deceased person was unable to make transactions for a while, that period should be investigated thoroughly. All transactions made should be substantiated by the Power of Attorney with receipts or other evidence.

19.7 The Banks’ Estate Process

If you have notified all companies the deceased dealt with, the banks you have informed about the death should have already informed you of their specific process and the documents they require to initiate the estate administration process.

Note: Depending on the size of the estate, the bank may request you to provide a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration issued by the Supreme Court in the relevant State/Territory. This is explained in more detail in Step 27 – Apply for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.

Generally speaking the process can be summarised in these key steps but may vary depending on the bank:

Phase 1 – Before you have Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration:
  1. Immediately stop using secondary credit cards that are linked to the deceased person’s credit card account;
  2. Provide or present a Certified Copy of the Death Certificate, the deceased person’s information and Executor, Administrator or Next of Kin contact details to:
    a) place a temporarily hold on all accounts held solely in the deceased person’s name; and/or
    b) move all jointly held accounts, products and services to the surviving joint owner;
  3. Provide invoices or payment receipts for funeral and other estate administration related expenses that the bank may pay from the deceased person’s account before the funds are available to the estate;
  4. Request details and balances about all accounts held in the deceased person’s name;
Phase 2 – With Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration:
  1. Complete the bank’s identification process to ascertain that you are the Executor, Administrator or Next of Kin authorised to be dealing with the bank on behalf of the deceased estate;
  2. Open an ‘Estate of the late’ bank account in to which all eligible funds will be transferred to;
  3. Complete the required indemnity and release information to release the funds to the estate; and
  4. Close the accounts held solely in the deceased person’s name.

The critical point at this time will be to work through Phase 1 (activities 1-4) above to determine the total value of all accounts solely owned by the deceased person. This information can then be added to the simplyEstate Assets & Liabilities Inventory.

It is recommended to contact the bank(s) that the deceased person dealt with and organise a meeting at a branch to present the necessary documents. We have put together the key information for the four major banks in Step 19.8 below for your convenience.

19.8 Major Banks’ Information and Details

Each bank will have their specific administration process in place and provide information about this on their websites. For your convenience simplyEstate has compiled Australia’s major banks’ information and details below:

ANZ – Australia and New Zealand Banking Corporation

If the deceased person dealt with ANZ, you should notify the bank of the death as outlined below:

Phone: 1800 237 170
Contact Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 7:00pm AEST
ANZ Branch near you can be found here
Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday, 9:30am – 4:00pm and Friday 9:30am – 5:00pm
Post: ANZ Estates, PO Box 585, Collins Street West, Victoria 8007

Relevant Documents
You will need to provide the following documents or as requested by the bank:
  • Certified Copy* of the Death Certificate;
  • Certified Copy* of the Will, if available;
  • Your proof of identity; and
  • Deceased person’s bank account numbers if known.

*you can bring the original documents to the branch as well for certifying.

Once you have a complete overview of all accounts and wish to proceed to release all funds from ANZ into the ‘Estate of the Late’ account, you will need to provide the following: Proof of Identity

Find out which documents ANZ accepts as proof of identity documents.

Home Loans

To find out about available options and refinancing contact ANZ Home Loans.

Phone: 1800 035 500
Contact Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 9:30pm (AEST) and Saturday – Sunday 8:00am – 4:30pm (AEST)

Website

The ANZ Estates website can be accessed here.

CBA – Commonwealth Bank of Australia

If the deceased person dealt with CBA, you should notify the bank of the death by visiting a branch with the documents outlined below: Phone: 1800 686 153
Contact Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 5:00pm AEST
CBA Branch near you can be found here
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday, 9:30am – 4:00pm

Relevant Documents
You will need to provide the following documents or as requested by the bank: Release of Funds
Once you have a complete overview of all accounts and wish to proceed to release all funds from Commonwealth Bank into the ‘Estate of the Late’ account, you will need to provide the following: Proof of Identity
If you are a Commonwealth Bank customer, simply provide your NetBank customer number. Alternatively, you will need to provide one of the following to prove your identity:
  • Primary Photographic Identification (one of the following):
    • Passport;
    • Australian Driver’s Licence; or
    • National Identity card.
  • Primary Non-Photographic Identification (two of the following):
    • Birth Certificate;
    • Pension Card; or
    • Citizenship Certificate.
  • A combination of Primary Non-Photographic and Secondary Identification (one of each):
    • Birth Certificate;
    • Pension Card; or
    • Citizenship Certificate;
    and
    • Electricity bill;
    • Gas bill;
    • Council rates; or
    • Recent notice issued by the Australian Taxation Office.
Website

The CBA Estates website can be accessed here.

NAB – National Australia Bank

If the deceased person dealt with NAB, you should complete a NAB Deceased Customer Notification Form online or contact the bank as outlined below.

Phone: 1800 911 451
Contact Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 5:00pm AEST
Email: [email protected]
NAB Branch near you can be found here
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday, 9:30am – 4:00pm AEST
Post: NAB Bereavement Support, GPO BOX 2067, Melbourne VIC 3001

Home Loans

To find out about available options and refinancing contact NAB Home Loans.

Phone: 1800 035 500
Contact Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 9:30pm (AEST) and Saturday – Sunday 8:00am – 4:30pm (AEST)

Relevant Documents
You will need to provide a Certified Copy of one of the following:
  • Death Certificate;
  • funeral notice; or
  • medical certificate confirming the date of death,
one of the following proof of identity documents:
  • driver’s licence; or
  • passport,
and one of the following:
  • the Will (if available); or
  • Proof that you are a Next of Kin (death certificate, marriage certificate or birth certificate).

Once NAB receives the NAB Deceased Customer Notification Form submitted online, the bank will inform you how to provide the relevant documents.

Release of Funds

Once you have a complete overview of all accounts and wish to proceed to release all funds from NAB into the ‘Estate of the Late’ account, you will need to provide the following:

With a Will
Without a Will
  • NAB Finalising a Deceased Estate without a Will Form; and
  • For total account balances with NAB of less than $50,000, each Next of Kin’s NAB customer ID or photo identification (passport or driver’s licence); or
  • For total account balances with NAB of more than $50,000, Letters of Administration and each Administrator’s NAB customer ID or photo identification (passport or driver’s licence).
Proof of Identity

Find out which documents NAB accepts as proof of identity documents. Website

The NAB Estates website can be accessed here.

Westpac

If the deceased person dealt with Westpac, you should notify the bank of the death as outlined below:

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 1300 130 240
Contact Hours: Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm AEST
Westpac Branch near you can be found here
Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday, 9:30am – 4:00pm and Friday 9:30am – 5:00pm
Post: Westpac Estates Management, 1 King Street, Concord West NSW, 2138 IBN11

Relevant Documents
You will need to provide the following documents or as requested by the bank:
  • Certified Copy of the Death Certificate;
  • Certified Copy of the Will, if available;
  • Your proof of identity; and
  • Deceased person’s bank account numbers if known.
Release of Funds

Once you have received a Letter of Requirement from Westpac with a reference number for your case, you can request a complete overview of all accounts and proceed to release all funds from Westpac into the ‘Estate of the Late’ account.

You will need to provide:
  • Grant of Probate (where a Will exists) or Letters of Administration (where a Will does not exist) upon request by Westpac depending on the total value of all accounts held with Westpac.
Proof of Identity

Find out which documents Westpac accepts as proof of identity documents.

Home Loans
Phone: 1800 067 497
Contact Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 9:30pm (AEST) and Saturday – Sunday 8:00am – 4:30pm (AEST)

Website

The Westpac Estates website can be accessed here.

19.9 Bank Statements

At this point, getting a full understanding of all balances (positive and negative) is critical. Once the above steps were completed, the bank will provide the authorised Executor, Administrator or Next of Kin with an overview of all accounts and their balance.

Once you have all this information from all banks you believe the deceased person had accounts with, you can copy this information to the simplyEstate Assets & Liabilities Inventory. With this information completed, you will start getting a better idea of the total value of the deceased estate.

As outlined in Step 15 – Prepare an Assets & Liabilities Inventory, you may want to check for any large amounts transacting into or out of the deceased person’s bank accounts to determine if there may be an amount owing to someone by the estate or if someone owes money to the estate.

Note: the value of all assets and liabilities are to be captured as at the date of death.

19.10 Grant of Probate and Letters of Administration

The banks will have varying document requirements depending on your situation and the size of the deceased estate. As a general rule, if the estate assets held by the bank are worth $50,000 or more, the bank will most likely request for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration to finally release the funds to the estate, so you can distribute to the Beneficiaries.

Step 27 – Apply for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration will provide more detail about this Step. If the bank requests for this now already, you will need to explain that you require the statements showing all balances of the deceased person’s bank accounts in order to apply for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration with the Supreme Court in the relevant State/Territory. Once granted you will then contact the bank again with the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration to continue the process towards release of funds to the estate as outlined in Step 19.7 – The Banks’ Estate Process (Phase 2).

19.11 Why Open an ‘Estate of the Late’ Bank Account

Good to know: Once you reach Step 30.1 – Set-up the Deceased Estate you will be reminded to open the estate of the late account with other important preparations.

The goal will be for the deceased person’s bank(s) to release all funds held by them into a bank account specifically created on behalf of the deceased estate. You will be holding the cash and other estate assets in trust on behalf of the deceased person as the authorised Executor or Administrator.
Such a bank account is called an ‘Estate of the Late’ account and only the authorised Executor(s) or Administrator(s) will have access to this account to make the final distributions to Beneficiaries. It will be important to nominate the ‘Estate of the Late’ account in the release form to ensure all funds belonging to the deceased estate are transferred to the correct account.

Where Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration are not needed to finalise and distribute the deceased estate, the Next of Kin who is taking care of the administration may request cash held in the name of the deceased person to be transferred into their personal bank account for distribution to all eligible Beneficiaries.

In this instance you will be asked to provide proof of the death, your relationship to the deceased as well as sign a Statutory Declaration and a release and indemnity form so the bank is confident to release funds to you personally.

Note: If you are the Next of Kin using your personal account, you should take utmost care to keep detailed records to separate what is your personal compared to estate money. Before using a personal account, you should explain to all Beneficiaries the reasons for doing so, provide a copy of the Will (if available) or relevant legislation to explain why you are acting on behalf of the estate, on what basis the distribution will be completed, and seek agreement from all Beneficiaries beforehand. There may be personal income tax implications you should seek advice on. If unsure, we recommend seeking legal advice.

Step 30 – Prepare Estate & Request Transfer of Assets will explain everything you need to do to prepare the estate to request transfer of funds.


Complete Step

Actions and Decisions to Complete Step Yourself

If you have decided to tackle this Step yourself after reading and understanding the above, you may want to:
  1. Claim any funeral and estate administration expenses incurred up to this point
    (see Step 19.1 above);
  2. Determine the products and services used and the ownership of each
    (see Step 19.2 and Step 19.3 above);
  3. Transfer the accounts to the surviving joint owner (if applicable)
    (see Step 19.3.2 above);
  4. Take the necessary steps outlined if a person was financially dependent on the deceased person
    (see Step 19.5 above);
  5. Learn the major banks’ estate process
    (see Step 19.7 above);
  6. Complete the necessary forms to notify the banks of the death and request statements;
    (see Step 19.8 and Step 19.9 above); and
  7. Update the simplyEstate Assets & Liabilities Inventory with all banking and financial products and services, and their value as at the date of death.

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Information

Forms

Legislation

New South Wales (NSW) – Sydney change State
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Queensland (QLD) – Brisbane change State

Cost & Effort

Reading: 20 mins
Completing: 1-2 hrs
Total: 1:15-2:15 hrs
Cost: $0

Effort and cost are general estimates only and are based on the assumption that you complete this step without experienced support.

Instructions

To find out how this Process Guide works, access the instructions here.

Glossary

To find out what the capitalised words mean, access the glossary here.

New South Wales (NSW) – Sydney change State
Victoria (VIC) – Melbourne change State
Queensland (QLD) – Brisbane change State

Forms

ANZ – Australia and New Zealand Banking Corporation

ANZ Identification Form
ANZ Release and Indemnity Form

CBA – Commonwealth Bank of Australia

CBA Deceased Customer Notification Form
CBA Certified Copies Identification Form (if you are not already a Commonwealth Bank customer)
CBA Claim for Assets Form – Assets held on behalf of deceased customer (Estates under $50,000)
CBA Authority to Release Assets Form – Release assets from a Deceased Estate (Estates over $50,000 requiring Probate or Letters of Administration).

NAB – National Australia Bank

NAB Deceased Customer Notification Form
NAB Finalising a Deceased Estate with a Will Form
NAB Finalising a Deceased Estate without a Will Form

Westpac

Read Step 19.8 and follow the process outlined.

Refer to Step 19.8 above for more detail about these forms.
Other forms not listed here may be required based on your specific circumstances.

Checklists & Tools

Use Australia’s smartest Assets & Liabilities Inventory to automatically calculate the estate value for Grant of Probate.

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Victoria (VIC) – Melbourne change State
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Legislation & Rules

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Other legislation and rules not listed here may apply to your specific circumstances.


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