How to Transfer a Bank Account on Death

When a person dies, all assets need to be retitled or moved into an account that allows the executor of the estate to pay creditors of the estate and release assets to beneficiaries. This process is referred to as "executing the estate." Only the executor can legally transfer assets and move the money after someone has died. Banks will generally place a freeze on a bank account when notified of a customer's death until the proper documentation is provided by the estate executor.

Go to the county vital records department or the coroner's office to obtain a certified death certificate. Copies will not suffice when dealing with probate courts or banks. Expect to pay a nominal fee per copy.

Obtain the executor's judgment. This document is provided by probate court or by guidelines explained in a family trust that state who is taking care of the estate assets and liquidation. Family trusts eliminate the need to go to probate court and help save time and money.

Go to the bank with the death certificate and documentation stating you are the executor. Explain to the customer service representative that you need to freeze the deceased's accounts and transfer the money into an "estate account."


  • If you are concerned with non-authorized individuals accessing funds from a deceased estate, it is wise to notify the bank immediately of the death while you are in the process of getting the death certificate and the executor paperwork.