Bank Accounts after Death in Australia

What happens to the money in a bank account after an account holder dies?

  • Sole Bank Account
  • Joint Bank Account

It can depend very much on the type of bank account that you have.

Joint Bank Account

If you are a couple and you have a JOINT account, the funds in that account normally become the sole property of the surviving account holder.

Sole Bank Account

If you are a couple but each have SEPARATE accounts then the law is very clear, in that the account held solely by the deceased’s name is held until probate has been finalised.  This can take up to about FIVE weeks.

Supreme Court of Western Australia

You may require a grant of Probate if the deceased had assets at the date of death such as bank accounts, shares or real estate solely in his or her name.
You may not require a grant of probate if the deceased’s bank account was jointly held with another person such as a spouse or partner.

The State of Queensland (Queensland Courts)

Once you file the Probate application in the court, the grant should be ready approximately four weeks later.
You don’t need a grant of probate if the asset (e.g. the family home) is in joint names, because it already belongs to the surviving joint owner.

New South Wales Government

Generally, when an estate is very small (less than $15,000) and uncomplicated, or when all assets are held as joint tenancies, there is no need to obtain probate or letters of administration.
The funeral account can be paid from the deceased’s bank account before probate.

Seniors Information Service

When an estate is very small, there may be no need to obtain a grant of probate or letters of administration.
If a bank account is in the deceased’s name only, banks will usually release enough to cover funeral expenses, or for a surviving spouse or children if the amount does not exceed a certain limit.
All the money in a joint account automatically goes to the survivor when one of the account holders dies.

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