Are Bank Accounts Frozen Upon Death?

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There are lots of things that people prepare for prior to their death, and yet there is still a lot that we don’t know. Not only in terms of what is on the other side, but also in terms of what happens when someone close to you passes away.

It isn’t something that you really want to prepare for, so when it does happen, it can feel a lot like stepping into the unknown. 

One thing that you may not know anything about is what happens to the bank account of someone that you love after they pass.

In this guide, we’ll be looking at all the information surrounding this to answer the question, ‘are bank accounts frozen upon death?’. 

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Are Bank Accounts Frozen Upon Death?

Yes, bank accounts are frozen upon death. You might not have considered this before, and when you lose someone, the last thing you think about is their bank account.

But, when someone passes away, the bank will freeze their account. This is because a person’s bank account makes up part of their assets, and so, their bank balance should be frozen when they die. 

This will prevent any ingoing and outgoing payments from being taken from the account. When someone passes, the last thing that you want to be doing is admin, and making the phone calls to notify the necessary professional bodies that that individual has passed is painful.

However, freezing the bank account upon death is a key part in sorting the will and probate of that individual, so it has to be done. 

What happens to a Person’s Bank Account when they die?

When an individual passes away, their bank account will be frozen. This type of freezing is very similar to the act that is placed upon the bank accounts of individuals who are suspected of fraudulent or financial crimes.

So, no outgoing payments will be taken from this account, and no ingoing payments will be made. This is because the bank account of an individual is one of their main assets. As this is a liquid asset, it is ever-changing, so freezing it upon death is very important. 

As you probably already know, assets are shared between the loved ones of the deceased. So, if the bank account is not frozen upon death, sorting out the will and probate can be a lot more complex and time-consuming.

By freezing a bank account upon an individual’s death, the bank will have proof of the exact amount of money that that individual had in their possession upon their death. 

Who notifies a Bank after Death?

One of the things that is most unclear about this whole process, is who should notify the bank of an individual’s death. You might assume that the bank would automatically know, however this is not the case.

Instead, the responsibility of notifying the bank falls onto the next of kin of that individual. This isn’t a pleasant job, but it is something that has to be done in order to arrange the will for that person. 

While you should notify the bank as soon as possible in order to make the process as stress-free as possible, this isn’t always easy. You cannot simply phone the bank and tell them that the individual has passed, because you will need proof of their death.

This will usually be provided in a copy of the death certificate. But, depending on the circumstances of their death, it might take a little longer for the death certificate to be produced.

Along with the death certificate, as the next of kin, you will also need to provide the name and social security number of the deceased person.

You may also need to provide bank account numbers, and additional information depending on the situation. 

What happens if no Beneficiary is named on a Bank Account?

In a lot of cases, people do not add a beneficiary onto their bank account, and this is incredibly common in people who do not expect their death is coming.

If the bank account is in two names, then the beneficiary will automatically be the other name on the account. But, if it is an individual bank account, then the process is slightly different.
 
When an individual passes away with no beneficiary specified on their bank account, then the money will go to probate.

If no beneficiary was stated in the will, then the money remaining in the account will be evenly distributed between all the creditors of the estate. If there is no will, then the next of kin will inherit the balance of that bank account. 

Summary

In short, yes, bank accounts are frozen upon death. It is the next of kin’s responsibility to notify the bank of the person’s death, and once proof is provided, the bank will freeze the account so that no more money will enter or be taken from this account. 

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