Banking practices protocol: estate administration

This protocol is designed to bring clarity to probate-related dealings between advisers and banks.

It was agreed by:

  • the Law Society of England and Wales
  • the British Bankers’ Association (BBA)
  • the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP)

The protocol covers the exchange of information between banks and solicitors and estate practitioners following the death of a bank customer.

It is intended to ease the administrative burden on family members who suffer a bereavement.

It allows solicitors to efficiently negotiate the different administrative procedures used by banks for releasing assets held by deceased customers.

It covers the handling of current, savings, credit card and unsecured loan accounts.

It does not necessarily apply to:

  • investment
  • pensions
  • insurance matters

Find out more about:

  • Information required by the bank
  • Information required by the solicitor
  • Account closure
  • Information required by the bank

    Your solicitor or STEP member should provide the following information to the bank on first contact or shortly afterwards.

    This will reduce delays in dealing with accounts or investments.

    1. Official copy of the Register

    The official copy of the Register (death certificate) issued by the General Register Office or the solicitor’s death certificate verification form.

    Where a death certificate has not been issued as an inquest is required, some banks will accept an interim certificate issued by the coroner.

    2. Date of death

    3. Identifying information

    • names used on accounts
    • last address prior to death, admission to hospital or nursing home etc.
    • date of birth

    4. Account numbers and sort codes

    Account numbers and sort codes of relevant accounts where these are known.

    5. Verification of the status of the solicitor or practitioner

    Confirmation of authority to act on behalf of:

    • executors – where the deceased left a will
    • next of kin – no will 

    For solicitors this will include:

    • headed paper with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) registration number

    For step members who are not solicitors:

    • procedure to be agreed directly between the individual and the bank

    Confirmation that the enquirer is a STEP member can be obtained by reference to that member’s inclusion on the STEP website.

    6. Correct address

    Correct address for correspondence in connection with the accounts of the deceased.

    7. Approximate value of the estate

    8. Confirmation of the existence of the will and names of executors

    Information confirming the existence of the will and the names of the executors. 

    Banks may also require sight of the original will or a solicitor certified copy of the will.

    Information required by the solicitor

    The solicitor or STEP member is likely to require certain information from the bank. 

    They may also require an outline of how the bank might normally respond to such requests. 

    Some banks may require the consent of the surviving account holder before releasing information on joint accounts. 

    9. Numbers of all accounts 

    Confirmation of the numbers of all accounts in the name of the deceased, including joint accounts.

    Subject to the solicitor/STEP member providing the full name and address of the deceased. 

    10. Details of the balances

    • Details of the balances on all accounts at the date of death
    • The amount of accrued interest at the date of death
    • Movements on all accounts between the date of death and the date of the bank providing account information where this is specifically requested

    11. Balances on deposit

    Where a specific request is made, the bank would:

    • place current account balances on deposit
    • confirm that this has been done, pending closure on production of the grant of representation

    Individual banks may wish to invoke procedures regarding this provision.

    12. Provision of access

    The provision of access to the solicitor/STEP member or an agreed agent to:

    • inspect and value any items that the bank is holding in safe custody on behalf of the deceased.

    13. Provision of a certificate

    Where a specific request is made, provision of a certificate showing any interest paid and tax deducted during the period from 6 April last to the date of death (and for the previous tax year).

    14. Details of standing orders and direct debits

    Where a specific request is made, details of all standing orders and direct debits in force at the date of death.

    Confirmation that a stop has been placed on them where they relate to an account in the sole name of the deceased.

    Where the account is in joint names, the instructions of the survivor will be required to cancel any standing orders or direct debits.

    15. Inheritance tax and funeral bill

    Where a specific request is made, confirmation that the bank will allow the balance on accounts to be used before production of the grant of representation for payment of inheritance tax and the funeral bill.

    The bank may also:

    • allow these funds to be used for the payment of probate fees
    • require copies of relevant documentation, in accordance with the individual bank’s procedures
    • require an indemnity or solicitor’s undertaking

    In all cases, confirmation is subject to the exercise of the bank’s right to set-off to the extent permitted by law where there are also debts due to the bank.

    16. Confirmation of address

    Confirmation that the correct address for correspondence has been noted on all accounts in the name of the deceased.

    When requested correspondence should be sent to the solicitor/STEP member acting for the deceased’s legal representative.

    It is the practice of some banks to require the authority of the executor or next of kin before doing this.

    17. The bank will aim to respond to the requests made under paragraphs 9-16 above within 15 working days.

    Account closure

    18. Confirmation

    On closing the account, the bank will confirm that the account has been closed. The closing balance will be sent within a reasonable time.

    19. Closing balance and bank statements

    Closing bank statements and the closing balance to be sent to the solicitor/STEP member acting for the deceased’s legal representative unless the legal representative advises the bank otherwise.

    Where a specific request is made, bank statements from the date of death to closure will be provided.

    A fee may be payable for the provision of bank statements from the date of death to closure.

    20. Set-off rules

    When a deceased holds both credit and debit balances with the bank, the bank will apply set-off rules to the extent permitted by law, providing the solicitor/STEP member with settlement on the net figure.

    The solicitor/STEP member will be advised of the net figure by letter or an assets and liabilities pro forma.

    The types of accounts covered in calculating a net balance will include:

    • savings accounts
    • current accounts
    • unsecured loan accounts
    • credit card accounts

    21. Time periods

    Closing balance to be sent no more than ten working days after:

    • receipt of grant of representation (either the original or official copy required)
    • the legal representatives’ signed closure instructions

    The period could be longer for accounts other than current and normal savings accounts or in circumstances where safe custody assets have not been collected.

    Closing balance statement to be sent no more than the ten working days from closure of the account.

    22. Signed indemnity form

    Without a grant of representation the bank may, at its discretion, require a signed indemnity form if it is prepared to release balances in the deceased’s bank accounts.

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