How to Close Bank Accounts for the Deceased Without a Will or Probate

By Maggie Lourdes

You don't need wills or probate courts to close certain types of bank accounts when original title owners die. You can close joint accounts when your co-owner dies by simply presenting the bank with your driver’s license or other official identification. Accounts titled in trusts are closed by successor trustees when the original trustees die. A payable-on-death or POD account is closed by the account’s named beneficiary upon presentation of the original owner’s death certificate.

Step 1

Contact the state's office for vital records or the county clerk where the deceased account owner died. Request a certified copy of the decedent's death certificate online, by mail, in person or by fax. Pay the applicable fee to obtain the death certificate.

Step 2

Present a certified death certificate where the deceased's account is located. Inform the bank you are either a trustee or POD beneficiary for the decedent's account. Provide a copy of the trust if you are closing an account titled in trust. Provide proper identification, such as a driver's license or passport, to establish your identity as either trustee or a named beneficiary on a POD account.

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Step 3

Instruct the bank on how to disburse the account's funds. For example, trustees must distribute funds according to the terms of the trust; a POD beneficiary may request funds be made payable to himself in the form of a cashier's check. Keep all statements from the bank showing accounts were properly closed and disbursed.

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