Increasingly your financial affairs are now being managed online so it is important that you give thought to how your relatives will access your accounts when you are no longer here.

Even though you may have  opened your bank accounts in the traditional way they may have now become purely an online service which has implications for your relatives if they are requested to deal with your financial matters either before or after your death.

The more you do now to address this,the easier it will be for your relatives to avoid any potential future issues including inheritance tax.

This will give you much more control over where your money actually goes to.

Before Your Death

The Digital Legacy Association have produced this checklist to highlight the areas you can start to deal with now to prevent future complications:-

  • Apply for any outstanding benefits or money that is owed to you
  • Close any unused bank accounts
  • Pay any outstanding bills (taxes)
  • Close gym memberships, any other lifestyle monthly direct debits
  • Consider changing your monthly mobile phone tariff to Pay as You Go (PAYG).
  • Pass on the keys for any safe deposit boxes (if you are lucky enough to have one)
  • Pay any credit cards, loans, unpaid tax returns or unpaid bills.
  • Think about closing premium software subscriptions (like Linkedin) subscriptions and how you plan to pay for your websites hosting etc once you have died.
  • Once you have considered the financial implications of the areas highlighted above tell someone or include directions as to how you would like them addressed in your will.
  • Ways to reduce the cost
  • In many countries such as in the UK and the USA the ‘cost of dying’ is increasing ahead of the rate of inflation. There are many ways in which we can reduce the ‘cost of dying’ and the outlay required for a funeral. These include arranging your own funeral and obtaining financial support. You may also want to consider requesting that money is donated towards the costs of the funeral as an alternative to flowers

After Your Death.

There are several ways that your relatives can contact your bank to enable them to close down the accounts.

Banks prefer you to call them on their dedicated bereavement number or visit a local branch, they do not want you to share your pin numbers for your account to give your relatives access but are usually happy to give access to named executors or people who have been granted power of attorney.

The bank will normally ask to see two forms of identification plus a  copy of the death certificate, grant of probate and any existing cheque books/passbooks.

Grant of probate is only required if the total value of the accounts exceeds £50,000.

Death Notification Service

Many banks are part of the Death Notification Service which allows relatives to notify several financial institutions at the same time, however if your finances are particularly complicated your relatives should contact each bank individually and most require the same sort of information as set out above:-

Frustratingly the approach adopted by banks will vary from place to place, the best thing to do is to seek advice on their approach as soon as possible, most offer a telephone option for bereavement advice on their website

The banks are not obliged  to release anything however and if they refuse to release money without probate or letters of administration your relative must apply for these items, however most UK banks are very keen to help bereaved relatives.

If there are funds in the account they will often agree to  settle the funeral bill straight away plus probate fees, inheritance tax and solicitors fees.