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Banks & Building Societies

Bank and building society accounts will either be in sole or joint names and the treatment of each is different on the death of the holder. Normally a sole name bank account will be frozen once the bank or building society is informed of the death of the holder. This means that no monies can be taken out of the account and this includes direct debits and standing orders which may include utility bill payments, mortgage repayments, life insurance etc. It is therefore important that you check what regular payments normally go out of the account and take any immediate action to inform the recipients and arrange for the payments to be made from other sources if required. However house insurance may still be paid but check with the bank (see earlier for useful tips on house insurance).

Similarly receipts into the account may be returned by the bank once the death of the holder is notified. Remember that continuing provision will need to be made for surviving spouses and family if a sole account is frozen. Frozen accounts will only be unfrozen once probate or a grant of administration has been obtained which can take weeks or months. Notification of the death of a bank or building society account holder will require an original or certified copy of the death certificate to be provided.

The treatment of accounts held in joint names is different. Once the bank or building society has been informed of the death of one holder they will automatically transfer the account into the name of the surviving holder and the same sort code and account number will be maintained. Direct debit and standing order payments will continue unless you inform the bank otherwise and debit cards linked to the account will continue.

If you are unsure what bank accounts the deceased may have held you can visit mylostaccount.org.uk which locates lost accounts.

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