After a person dies, it can be difficult to find their bank accounts and distribute the money as they intended. Some banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions will search their own systems directly at the direction of an account beneficiary. You can also use online search tools to find bank accounts of those who’ve passed away.
Navigating those systems correctly will ensure you find every penny left behind by your loved one.
Why it’s important to find a deceased person’s bank account
Most money sitting in bank accounts is left to gain interest. But when a person passes away, the state government can keep the interest for itself. Finding the account and taking action to claim the money makes sure every cent gets to the right hands.
Steps to find bank accounts of a deceased person
To get money back from a deceased relative’s account, you have to know the account exists in the first place. Here are a few steps to go through to locate them.
Gather information about the deceased person
Before you can start your search, you need to know the basic information about the deceased person. That includes their full name, date of birth, Social Security number, and last known address. Knowing previous addresses and the financial institutions they banked with is also helpful.
Check with the probate court
If the deceased person had a will, the probate court will oversee the process of distributing their assets, including their bank accounts. You can contact the court to run an asset search for deceased loved ones to see if they had any accounts in their name.
Contact banks directly
You can contact the banks where the deceased person might have had an account. You may need to provide proof of death, such as a death certificate, and legal documentation stating that you have the authority to access their account.
Search for unclaimed property
If you’re not sure which banks the deceased person had accounts with, you can search for unclaimed property records in the state where they lived. The state treasurer’s office typically maintains these records, which may include funds from closed bank accounts. Other websites will let you search the entire country, which can be helpful if the deceased person moved states throughout their lifetime, or if they have money invested in an institution that’s headquartered outside of the state they were living in when they passed away.
Consider hiring a professional
If you’re having trouble locating the bank accounts of the deceased person or need help with legal matters, you might want to consider hiring a probate attorney or other professional with experience in finding deceased assets.
Possible challenges when finding bank accounts of a deceased person
Searching for a deceased person’s bank account using their name alone, you may run into some trouble because multiple people may share the same name. Having the decedent’s Social Security number remedies confusion in the identification of the account holder. If the bank where the deceased person held an account has failed, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) will take over the account.
Locating and Securing Funds of Deceased Person’s Accounts
When a person dies, they may or may not have detailed what happens with their bank accounts through a will or the naming of a beneficiary. If they haven’t, a lawyer or the person named to handle the estate will be responsible for how to find bank accounts of a deceased person. To find what money is out there, search through individual banks, the state government, and online platforms to help you locate the deceased person’s forgotten accounts.
Is it possible to find assets of a deceased person for free?
Yes, many services available center around how to find assets after death.
Can I access the deceased person’s bank account without legal authority?
Access to online accounts after death is limited. If a person dies without naming someone to manage their estate and without any legal heirs, a person may have to go to court to be given the power to access accounts.
What happens if the deceased person did not leave a will or legal documents for their bank accounts?
Many bank accounts will ask the account holder to list a beneficiary in the event of their death. If there’s no will and no listed beneficiary, the executor of the estate handles the assets. In cases where there is no heir whatsoever, the assets may be turned over to the state.