Paying the bills

All the deceased person’s assets, including their bank and building society accounts, are automatically frozen on their death. All direct debits and standing orders on accounts are therefore cancelled. This is the case whether or not the person left a will.

This can cause a problem for dependents who may struggle to cope financially until the grant of representation is obtained. Two solutions may be available to them.

If a bank account contains less than £5,000

If an account contains only a relatively small amount of money (usually less than £5,000), it is common practice for the bank or building society to release this sum to the next of kin before the grant of representation has been made.

You will need to contact the bank or building society and inform them of the situation. At the least they are likely to ask to see a copy of the death certificate which you will have after the death has been registered.

The bank or building society may ask you to sign an indemnity under which you undertake to personally repay the money if it transpires that you didn’t have a legal entitlement to it.

If a bank account is in joint names

If the deceased had a joint bank account then the other person named on the account will be automatically entitled to the money in the account by right of survivorship.

The joint owner will be able to carry on using the account as ownership of the contents automatically passes to them on the other person’s death. A new cheque book and bank card will be issued in due course.

Please note

The information which we provide through Lasting Post is in outline for information or educational purposes only. The information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a solicitor, accountant or other professional adviser. We cannot guarantee that information provided by Lasting Post will meet your individual needs, as this will very much depend on your individual circumstances. You should therefore use the information only as a starting point for your enquiries.