Forum: How next of kin can access dead person's bank deposits

The Singapore skyline on Jan 9, 2019.
The Singapore skyline on Jan 9, 2019.PHOTO: ST FILE

We thank Mr Goh Kian Huat for his letter, (What happens to unclaimed CPF money, bank deposits?, Oct 24).

For bank account holders who have passed on, there is a process for their next of kin to ascertain and access their assets.

Where the deceased had made a will, the named executor(s) can apply to the court for a Grant of Probate, which can then be used to access the deceased's bank deposits.

If there is no will, then the next of kin would have to apply to the Court for a Grant of Letters of Administration.

The executor or administrator may then take the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration to the banks to find out if there are monies belonging to the deceased.

Upon verification, banks will release monies to the executor or administrator.

This legal process ensures that a deceased's assets are handed over to an authorised person to be distributed to the rightful beneficiaries.

There is no time limit for making such a claim.

Regarding inactive accounts more broadly, some banks proactively reach out to their customers after a long period of inactivity.

Nonetheless, there are practical limits to how far a bank can go to locate an inactive customer.

All banks are expected to maintain accurate records of their customers' accounts and to have added controls to ensure only authorised access to unclaimed monies in inactive accounts.

Mr Goh's concerns highlight the importance of making a will.

We encourage all Singaporeans to do so, so that their loved ones are informed of their assets and intended financial arrangements.

Jerome Lee

Director (Corporate Communications)

Monetary Authority of Singapore

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2019, with the headline 'How next of kin can access dead person's bank deposits'. Print Edition | Subscribe