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Deceased Estate Bank Accounts: Notifying us

What to expect when you notify Westpac of the loss of a loved one

September 2021 – 4 minute read

Key takeaways from this article:

  • Notifying us
  • What happens next
     
 hand unlocking the deposit box of a deceased estate

What happens when you notify us?

As soon as we’re notified, we inform all parts of the Westpac Group, and we will let you know if you need to take any further action regarding specific accounts.
 

Once you notify us and provide at least one of the Proof of Death documents, then a permanent hold will be placed on any transaction accounts solely held by the deceased. This means:
 

  • No money can be taken out of the accounts
  • Credit continues to be credited to any deceased estate accounts
  • Direct Debits are stopped from being debited – including utility bills, mortgage or loan payments.


The only exception to this is home insurance, which we may continue to pay if you ask us to and credit funds are available.

Things to consider:
 

Speak to us if you or someone else still requires access to an account.
 

Alternative arrangements may need to be made if these accounts are solely in the name of the deceased, and the sole source of funds for others. Speak to us if you or someone else still requires access to this account. We’ll provide you with a full list of information to assist with this task – see Step 3 for more information.

What happens next?
 

You will receive a ‘Letter of Requirement’ as part of the statement of position within 7 to 10 business days. This will include a reference number to quote when contacting us and a list of any further information we need.
 

Depending on the value of the Estate, we may also ask for documents such as the Will, Probate, Probate Bond or Letters of Administration.
 

All Powers of Attorney, Guardianships and authorised signatories cease once a person is deceased. Only the next of kin or Executor/ Administrator/Legal representative will be able to engage with the bank regarding the deceased’s accounts after their passing.
 

Once all the necessary documentation has been received, we’ll begin settling the accounts and releasing funds to the Executor(s), Administrator(s) or Solicitor acting for the Estate.

Joint account holders

The joint holder will still have access to the  account (credits and debits) as per normal (except for term deposits and if joint holder is a secondary holder of the product) and the surviving account holder will not need to be formally identified in order to access funds from the joint accounts. Joint accounts will be transferred into the name of the surviving joint account holder(s) once we have received a certified copy of the Death Certificate.

Are joint bank accounts frozen when someone dies?
 

In most cases, if an individual forming part of a joint account dies, the surviving account holder will gain full access to the funds and continue to be able to operate the account. The funds do not form part of the deceased estate.

Do all joint bank accounts have rights of survivorship?
 

Generally, the ‘principle of survivorship’ applies to jointly held bank accounts. This means that in the case of a joint account holder’s death, the surviving joint account holder receives the remaining funds, and full control of the account.

Term deposits

The joint account holder, next of kin, executor or administrator can either continue the term deposit until maturity or request the funds be released prior to maturity. We will need certain documentation in order to be able to release the funds before the end of the term deposit term. All interest penalties will be waived and interest paid will accrue up until the date of closure.

Credit Cards

Where possible, we will offset the credit card debt using the funds available from any savings and transaction account, in accordance with the products terms and conditions. You’ll need to cancel any existing direct debits attached to the card. If the deceased was the primary cardholder, the card needs to be cancelled, which will  cancel  any secondary cardholder’s cards automatically. We understand this will impact on secondary cardholders who may be reliant on this card for making purchases. The bank will endeavour to assist the secondary cardholder with a solution, for example applying for a new card, subject to  Westpac’s  existing lending criteria.

Home Loans

The estate of the deceased will need to continue paying the loan. Interest will continue to accrue on the account until the loan is finalised. For sole accounts, the redraw facility will no longer be available and all debits will be blocked. There are a number of options available to the next of kin, executor, administrator or solicitor acting for the estate. The Estates Management team will help you through the process including, if requested, producing title deeds or any associated safe custody packets that we might hold on the deceased’s behalf. If you require the deceased’s name to be removed from the title deeds, please contact your preferred solicitor for more information. If you’re concerned the regular loan repayments cannot be met, please contact Customer Assist on 1800 067 497.

Personal Loans

The joint account holder or the estate of the deceased will need to continue paying the loan. Interest may still accrue on the account until the loan is finalised. The Estates Management team will help you through the process. If the joint account holder or the estate of the deceased or the joint personal account holder(s) is unable to meet the regular loan repayments, you may contact Customer Assist on 1800 067 497.

Funeral or life insurance

Call us on 131 817 and tell us what has happened to prompt your claim. We are here Monday to Friday from 8.00am to 6.30pm (Sydney time). You will be assigned a Claims Consultant, who will help you every step of the way. We will mail you a Claims Kit, your claim will then be assessed and payment can then be arranged.

Superannuation

If there were no binding death benefit nominations or specific wishes mentioned in a will then superannuation law sets out who is eligible to receive superannuation death benefits on the death of a member of a superannuation fund. You will be required to complete a Death Benefit Information Form (which we can give you), and provide a certified copy of the Death Certificate. In most cases you will also need to provide a certified copy of the Will and a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration (where there is no Will).

Trust Accounts

If the Deceased held a trust account and you are a beneficiary, we recommend that you seek independent financial and/or legal advice. You will then need to visit a branch to make any changes to the trust account.


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Helpful checklists and resources

Knowing who to notify and understanding the different legal terms like Power of Attorney can be confusing. These handy checklists and frequently asked questions may help.

Things you should know

This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness for the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice. Credit Criteria and terms and conditions apply.


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