Bank Accounts and The Death of a Loved One

By: Matthew Funeral Home
Tuesday, January 2, 2024

When a death occurs in the family, there can be a lot of different things to juggle, including money. Bills, your mortgage, and all sorts of other important paperwork can be thrown into chaos otherwise. It is important to make sure that the monetary assets in the bank accounts of your loved one are taken care of after their passing. Knowing what you need to prepare for each account will make the account transfers smoother. 

Accounts in Their Name

Bank accounts owned solely by your loved one can be held upon death. Without a Payable-on-Death (POD) beneficiary, the account may need to go through a probate period. The beneficiary would then need to have a copy of their death certificate and their ID with them. Your loved one’s account may also be left to an heir in the Will. The heir will generally require a Letter of Testamentary from the probate court. A Letter of Testamentary will name the executor of the account and will then be filed by the bank.

If You Are Named as a Payable-On-Death Beneficiary

If your loved one named you as a POD beneficiary, this means that you will have the ability to access their funds as soon as you have the death certificate. This is often done by account holders to help assist their families in paying for the funeral or accessing money for bills. You will likely still need your ID and a copy of the death certificate when you go to the bank to transfer the account. 

Joint-Ownership Accounts

If you share a bank account with the deceased, what happens will depend on the rules of your account. With a Rights of Survivorship account, you become the sole user if your partner passes. If the account does not secure the Rights of Survivorship, the co-owner may name a beneficiary to take their place. 
If the account documents do not specify if it is a tenancy account, or if the Rights of Survivorship are not stated, you should contact the bank. Some banks leave these out during account creation. Sometimes, the bank will imply it, but not state it outright. Be sure to meet with someone at the bank to go over the account details, and to make sure that they reflect your and your partner’s wishes.

Living Trusts

If a living trust was set up by your loved one to provide funds to the family after they pass, it can be accessed upon death. There may be restrictions on withdrawals, including what the money can be used for. Be sure to meet with your loved one’s bank and/or estate lawyer for the details. Many people set up living trusts to help their families pay for funeral costs, the mortgage, and more after their passing. Upon death, the funds in the trust can be transferred to the heir by the successor trustee, without the need for probate.

Online Payment Apps

Apps such as PayPal, Venmo, & Zelle allow payments to be made directly from your bank accounts. While not bank accounts specifically, they may still be tied to accounts after they are transferred. It is important to try to access and close these accounts after a loved one’s death. This can be especially if these accounts were used to make vital payments, autopay subscriptions, etc. Each company will likely have specific policies regarding closing and/or transferring accounts.

For over 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve you, every step of the way.

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