Notify banks

Notifying banks of a death generally requires two steps—initial notification and account closure. Here we will cover initial notification. To notify a bank of a death, you likely need to visit a branch of the bank in person. This step is harder to accomplish over the phone. Remember to bring items like the death certificate and letters of testamentary as well as an old account statement or the account number so they can easily look up the account.

When you notify the bank, you might encounter account notes you need to pay attention to. For example, the bank might tell you that the account had a POD, or pay on death designation. You need to work with the estate’s attorney to understand whether the state will recognize this type of account as a probate asset or non-probate asset.

How you proceed when the account is closed is dictated by this determination. The bank also might tell you that the account was a joint account. Again, you need to work with the estate’s attorney to determine whether the money in the account belongs to the estate or the other person/people listed on the account.