Deceased estates frequently asked questions

We've collated some of the most common questions about finalising accounts and services, to help you understand the process and requirements.

Accounts, credit cards and loans

What happens to bank accounts?

As soon as you let us know a loved one has passed away, we’ll act to keep their accounts safe. To prevent unauthorised people from accessing them, we won’t allow any debits or transfers from them.

Once we’ve placed a stop on the accounts, regular payments (like direct debits and recurring payments) will stop, but some might continue. If you ask us, we’ll give you a list of regular payments on your loved one’s account.

There’s usually no change to how joint accounts operate. We can change the name on the account depending on the nature and terms and conditions of it – just let us know.

 

Why have you stopped my credit card?

Any credit cards held in the deceased’s name will be cancelled. That means if you’re an additional card holder, your card will be cancelled too and you’ll have to reapply for a credit card in your own name.

Keep an eye on statements after the card is cancelled to see if there’s still any payment debits. Just ask us for a copy of the statements, or for a list of the debits. You might need to get in touch with the service provider if you see anything being charged to the card on the statement.

If the cancellation of the account puts you under financial stress, we can help you – just call 1300 769 173.
 

I have cheques made payable to the estate. Can I still deposit them into the account in the deceased's name?

No. They should be banked into an account opened in the name of the estate. If you need to open an account in the name of the estate just contact us and we'll let you know what you'll need.
 

What do I do about the home loan or personal loan?

We’ll stop all access and activity to home loans and personal loans where the deceased person is the only borrower. We recommend you seek legal advice before making any voluntary repayments during this time.

If you’re the joint account holder, you’ll need to continue making repayments. Unless you plan to sell the property or pay off the loan using the deceased person’s super or insurance, we might be able to help transfer the Certificate of Title to the surviving account holder(s).

Home and personal loans stay in the joint names until changed to the surviving borrower’s name, or in the case of a home loan, until the property is sold.

If you’re struggling to make repayments on your own, we can help you – just call 1300 769 173.
 

What happens to business accounts?

Business accounts, loans or facilities might be stopped to prevent any debits to the account, depending on whether the business can continue to trade. This means cheques made from the stopped account will be returned unpaid.

Debit or credit cards linked to the account will be stopped to prevent unauthorised access. This means no one will be able to use cards linked to the account. Regular payments (like direct debits and recurring payments) will stop, but some might continue. If you ask us, we’ll give you a list of regular payments on the account.

If you need us to keep making business payments, like wages or bills, let us know straight away. Send us any invoices or bills the business owes so we can assess the requests. We’ll let you know if we can pay them within seven days.

Our Deceased Estate Support team can help you manage any business accounts or facilities your loved one or business partner had with us – just call us. If the deceased had a Relationship Manager, contact them to discuss how the accounts will now be managed.

If you’re having trouble making repayments on joint business loans, call us on 13 70 00 and we’ll work with you to find a solution.
 

Can I close the account(s) held by the deceased?

Each case is different, but once we've received everything we need we'll be able to settle the estate.
 

What happens if I’m struggling financially after my loss?

If you’re having trouble making repayments on a loan or struggling financially, please contact us so we can help find a solution for your financial hardship.

Bank and legal requirements

What happens if the deceased did not have a Will?

We recommend you seek independent legal advice.
 

I do not wish to provide a copy of the Will. Can I just provide the front page that shows who the executor is?

Requirements vary between estates, and each case is assessed separately. To discuss your individual circumstances, please call us on 13 17 19. Alternatively, you may seek independent legal advice.
 

I filled out the Deceased Customer Notification Form, why do I have to fill these other forms?

The forms provide different information to assist in assessing the estate.
 

Does a Power of Attorney still have legal authority over the deceased’s accounts?

No, the legal authority under the Power of Attorney ends once the person dies. We’ll only be able to share account information with the estate executor, administrator, or next of kin.
 

I am one of multiple executors named on the Will – why have you sent the forms for completion to the other executors?

We need the written agreement of all named executors.
 

I am the executor of the estate making a claim. Why do I have to give details of relatives already deceased? Why is this relevant?

Our forms provide information to assist us in determining who the entitled claimants to the estate are.
 

Why can't I have the money held in the deceased's accounts?

Requirements vary between estates, and each case is assessed separately. To discuss your individual circumstances, please call us on 13 17 19. Alternatively, you may seek independent legal advice.
 

Why is all this paperwork required?

We're responsible for ensuring we release any money from the accounts in accordance with the law. If you need any assistance completing the paperwork, please call us on 13 17 19.
 

Can a power of attorney still be used after date of death?

No, a power of attorney is a formal document where a person (the principal or donor) authorises another person (the attorney or donee) to represent them or act on their behalf. The power of attorney ceases upon the death of the principal/donor.
 

Is the medical certificate, listing the cause of death, sufficient to commence finalising the deceased's accounts held with the Bank?

No, the full Death Certificate contains additional information, which is required by the Bank.

 

Estate debts, bills and funds

Can I get reimbursement for a funeral expense?

Yes, if you're the person who paid the funeral expense, and there are funds available in the deceased's accounts. You will need to bring the original receipt to the branch in order to arrange the reimbursement.
 

I don’t have any money to pay the deceased's debts owing to Bankwest. What can I do?

Unless you are a joint account holder or guarantor, you will not be responsible for the debts of the deceased's estate.
 

What happens if the estate is insolvent (has more debts than assets or funds)?

If the estate is insolvent, the executor/administrator of the estate should call us on 13 17 19 for further information. Seeking independent legal advice is also recommended.
 

I have bills that need to be paid and Bankwest has declined to arrange payment. Why can’t I have them paid?

There are various reasons for payment requests to be declined. To discuss your individual circumstances, please call us on 13 17 19. Alternatively, you may seek independent legal advice.
 

Will I only get the balance of the deceased’s account(s) as at the date of their death?

Upon the finalisation of an estate, we'll pay all funds held in an account at the time of finalisation, plus accrued but unpaid interest, less any applicable fees.
 

I have bills to pay for the deceased. Can I arrange for these to be paid from the deceased's account?

Usually only accounts or bills incurred by the deceased prior to their death will be considered for payment, apart from funeral expenses. A Claim for Assets Held on Behalf of a Deceased Customer form is required to enable payment requests to be considered, and arranged.
 

Who is liable for the deceased's credit card debt?

If the deceased was the primary cardholder, then their Estate is liable for the debt.
 

Why can't the joint lending accounts be changed to my sole name?

We consider this change in circumstances as requiring a new loan, which must be assessed according to usual procedure.
 

Why doesn't Bankwest just write off the credit card debts when the cardholder is deceased?

Until the outstanding amount is repaid, there is still a debt owing.

Estate of the Late accounts

Do I have to open an Estate of the Late account to distribute funds from the estate?

We don’t need an Estate of the Late account to release funds, but it might be needed for depositing cheques made out to the estate and can be a handy way to access and distribute the money.

This is a matter for the executor, administrator or legal representative to determine.

Your nearest branch can guide you through what accounts are available and what’s needed to open an account for the estate.
 

How does an Estate of the Late account work?

The account works like a normal transaction account. It allows only the executor, administrator or next of kin to can transact on it, in order to distribute money and deposit cheques made out to the estate.
 

Will the estate be taxed on interest earned on the account?

As all situations are different, we advise you to contact the ATO for these details.
 

What is a testamentary trust?

It’s a trust established by a Will to provide for the distribution of assets to a beneficiary at the completion of the estate administration. For more information, or if you need to open a testamentary trust account, let us know before you finalise the estate so we can tell you what you'll need.

Fees

In finalising the estate, are there fees payable for bank cheques?

Generally no (fees may apply where large numbers of cheques are requested).
 

If I withdraw a term deposit in the name of the deceased before the maturity date, will I be charged a prepayment cost?

No, there is no cost for the prepayment of a term deposit for a deceased customer.

Forms

Who can certify documents?

Each state is different. Contact the Law Society in your state for further information.
 

Who can witness Statutory Declarations?

Each state is different. Contact the Law Society in your state for further information.
 

Which forms do I need to complete, and how do I fill them in?

Call us on 13 17 19 for assistance, as each case is different. We can advise you of the forms you'll need to fill out. Also, each form will have completion instructions to make things easier for you. However, feel free to call us on 13 17 19 if you're have any questions - we're here to help.

Probate and Letters Administration

What is a Grant of Probate and do I need to provide it to the bank?

A Grant of Probate is a document issued by the Supreme Court in the state or territory where the assets are held. It confirms that a Will is valid and gives the executors the authority to act.

If there’s no Will, you can apply to the Supreme Court for Letters of Administration. You might need to provide us with Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration depending on the value of the estate. We’ll let you know if you do.

If you need more information, we recommend you seek legal advice.
 

The estate has accounts held across multiple states in Australia. Is the Probate issued in one state enough to close all accounts with Bankwest?

Probate requirements vary between estates. If the estate holds assets in more than one state or territory, we recommend you seek legal advice. Your legal representative is the best person to help with this.

Need more help?

Call our Deceased Estate Support Team on 1300 734 203 (8am - 4.30pm AWST, Mon – Fri). If you need help outside these hours, call us on the number below.