What happens to the deceased’s bank account after death in Singapore?
Death Without Will
When the deceased passes away without leaving a Will, the personal representative will have to apply for a grant of letters of administration. The grant of letters of administration is a Court order allowing the administrator to administer the estate of the deceased.
In general, the process of applying for a grant of letters of administration is as follows:
- The administrator will obtain the original death certificate.
- All beneficiaries of the deceased will choose the administrator. They will also waive the right to be the administrator.
- The administrator will apply for the grant of letters of administration in Court, and file the schedule of assets left behind by the deceased.
- Letters of administration is obtained and the administrator pays off all debts and distribute the assets according to the rules under Section 7 of the Intestate Succession Act.
The Intestate Succession Act will determine how assets (including the deceased’s bank accounts) are to be distributed.
Death with a Will
If a Will is in place, there is no need for an administrator to be chosen by the beneficiaries. The estate will be distributed according to the wishes of the deceased.
If the Deceased Has Less Than S$50,000 in Assets
In the event that the deceased has less than S$50,000 in assets and no debts and liabilities, the Public Trustee’s Office may assist the next-of-kin in the distribution of the assets.
Settlement of the Deceased’s Bank Accounts After Death in Singapore
After receiving notification of the deceased’s death, the bank will freeze the accounts of the deceased, including savings, current and fixed deposit accounts. The legal representative of the deceased will approach the bank to close the bank accounts of the deceased.
Joint Bank Accounts After Death in Singapore
The surviving joint account holders can provide the bank with a copy of the death certificate of the deceased and a copy of their NRICs. The bank will give the account balance to the surviving account holders proportionately. All parties must be present and provide the relevant documentation for the account to be closed. Should there be any dispute, the bank can freeze the account, pending a Court order as per the application of the surviving account holders.
In the event that there is less than S$5,000.00 and the account is a single account (i.e. not a joint account), the bank may not require a grant of letters of administration. The deceased’s next-of-kin can approach the bank without the grant of letters of administration or probate. The deceased’s next-of-kin will include the deceased’s spouse, parents, children or siblings.
However, this depends on the bank’s policies and it may also be that the bank requires a grant of letters of administration/ probate even if there is less than S$5,000.00 in the bank account and the account is in the sole name of the deceased.
The passing of a loved one can be traumatic and it will be even more so if the deceased is a sole/ main bread-winner of the family. If you have more questions on how to access the bank accounts of the deceased after death in Singapore, you should seek advice from an experienced probate lawyer.
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