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Registering a Death With a Bank

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Following the death of a loved one, the process of informing all relevant parties can be a stressful undertaking and one that requires a good deal of organisation. Thankfully, all of the major UK banks have experience in dealing with bereavement and are able to offer good support for executors, personal representatives and relatives who need to register a death with their organisation.

In this guide, we talk you through the process of registering a death with a bank plus provide you with some useful resources for the main UK banks to help you reach the right departments. 

What Documents Will I Need to Register a Death With a Bank?

In order to register a death with a bank, you will first need to have formally registered the death and obtained a Death Certificate (or Coroner’s Certificate).

Most banks will also require confirmation of your entitlement to act on behalf of the deceased’s Estate; this is usually in the form of a Will, Grant of Probate or Letter of Administration.

If you do not bank with the same organisation then you will also need to prove your identity with both:

  • a valid photo ID such as a passport, driving license or armed forces ID card, and
  • a recent (dated in the last three months) utility bill (gas, electricity, water, council tax, telephone) with your current address clearly displayed.

Finally, you will need the full details of the deceased’s bank accounts you are dealing with including sort codes and account numbers of any/all current accounts, savings accounts and joint accounts.

Do I Need to Visit the Bank to Register a Death?

Many UK banks offer online services for bereaved families who need to register a death with them. 

However, most also offer the same service via telephone, in branch or via post. In addition, some also offer bereavement support services and have specialist teams to deal with this kind of situation.

What Happens When You Notify a Bank of a Death?

By law, banks must immediately cancel any direct debits or standing orders that are set up on any sole accounts of a person who is deceased. 

Though the account is effectively frozen, credits may still be allowed.

Most banks will also automatically inform other parts of their group of the notice of death and advise you of any further action that may be required on your part with respect of specific accounts.

It is important to note that alternative arrangements may need to be made to meet those payments which are normally taken from the deceased’s bank account. This can include mortgage payments, utilities and other outgoings that still need to be kept up to date such as council tax.

What Happens if the Deceased’s Bank Account Was in Joint Names?

In most cases, any other named holders of a joint account will continue to be able to access the account including withdrawing money. Unlike in the case of sole accounts, regular payments are not usually frozen or cancelled.

Generally, the account will simply be transferred into the name of the surviving account holder.

Will the Bank Stop Sending Letters to the Deceased?

Whilst it is understandably upsetting to receive post addressed to the deceased after you have informed an organisation that someone has died, it can take several weeks for all areas of a bank’s administration systems to be fully updated.

Sometimes, letters and information are prepared in advance and distributed to other centres for mailing out at a later date. 

How Long Does it Take for a Bank to Release a Balance?

Once they have been notified of death and the correct documentation has been received, most banks will promptly issue a combined release of funds from all sole savings and current accounts held in the deceased’s name.

The time to do  this varies by bank but you can usually expect release of the balance within 10-14 working days if this is what has been requested.

If, however, there is a dispute on the Estate then you may also have to provide evidence of Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.

What is the Death Notification Service?

The Death Notification Service is a free facility that allows you to register a death with a single organisation who take responsibility for informing all of its member financial institutions. 

Members who are informed through the service will make contact with the applicant within 10 calendar days. 

The service is an independent one and not all UK banks are registered as members. 

It is a different service to the government’s ‘Tell Us Once’ scheme which only notifies government departments.

You can find a fill list of all financial institutions who are members of the Death Notification Service here.

It is important to note that this service does not replace the need to have contact with each of the banks themselves and you may still find that you are required to provide duplicate information depending on the bank’s individual procedures.