Legal Guide

Can You Use a Deceased Person’s Bank Account to Pay for Their Funeral?

by ezyLegal Editor · 3 min read

Can you use a deceased person’s bank account to pay for their funeral?

Can you use a deceased person’s bank account to pay for their funeral? This might seem like an odd question to most, but after a death in the family, many people find themselves asking, “Can you use a deceased person’s bank account to pay for their funeral?” In situations such as these, a general Power of Attorney is not useful as this power expires after the death of the person who gave it. The funeral industry is becoming more expensive every year, and to keep up with the rising costs, some families might dip into their deceased relative’s funds to pay for their funeral. So, what is the answer to the question, “Can you use a deceased person’s bank account to pay for their funeral?”

What happens if the sole owner of an account dies?

  • To answer the question of “Can, you use a deceased person’s bank account to pay for their funeral?” you first need to know whether they had a joint account or held an account by themself.
  • If the person was the sole owner of a bank account, it is important to know whether someone was named to inherit the account’s funds. This person would be known as the “beneficiary” of the “nominee.” 
  • Many banks allow their customers to name a beneficiary. Such an account is sometimes called a “payable on death” or “transferable on death” account. 
  • If the account holder established someone as a beneficiary before their death, the bank releases the funds to the named person once it is informed of the account holder’s death. After that, the bank typically closes the account. 
  • So can you use a deceased person’s bank account to pay for their funeral? If their bank account named you as the beneficiary, you won’t have to use their account at all. The funds would be transferred to you, and the account would be closed.
  • Logically, the question of “Can you use a deceased person’s bank account to pay for their funeral?” also needs to be examined in the context of accounts that don’t name beneficiaries.
  • If the owner of the account did not appoint a beneficiary, the answer to “Can you use a deceased person’s bank account to pay for their funeral?” can become a lot more complicated. 
  • The executor, who administers the dead person’s estate, becomes responsible for using the money to repay creditors and dividing the remaining funds according to the deceased’s will.
  • However, if there was no will and consequently no executor, the Government appoints an executor on the basis of local laws. 
  • This person will be responsible for disbursing the deceased person’s funds, so “Can you use a deceased person’s bank account to pay for their funeral?” will only be answered in the affirmative if they permit it.

What happens if the owner of a joint account dies?

  • Most joint accounts include clauses that incorporate the right of survivorship automatically, which means that after one of the account holders dies, the remaining holder, or holders, retain ownership of the money in the account. 
  • The surviving primary account owners can continue using the account, and the money in it, without any interruptions. So “Can you use a deceased person’s bank account to pay for their funeral?” is answered with a simple “Yes” if the bank account had another owner.
  • However, if the joint account’s only surviving holder is a secondary account holder, then the account will need to be closed. The secondary account holder may be allowed to remove the funds from the account during the settlement process, but this is extremely circumstantial.
  • If you are one of the owners of a joint account, it’s worth checking with your bank to make sure that the account has automatic rights of survivorship. Some banks may freeze joint accounts after one of the holders dies, which could negatively affect your ability to use the funds within it.
  • If this happens, not only is the question of “Can you use a deceased person’s bank account to pay for their funeral?” answered in the negative, you may not be able to use your own funds for the funeral either.

Contents of a will

Usually, an elaborate discussion on what happens to the bank account does not matter if the will of the deceased person makes provisions for the same. To this end, the following provisions are essential for wills:

  • Information of the parties: Ideally, a will would state the name of the testator, as well as information like their date of birth and address. It would also include basic information regarding the legatees.
  • Assets and beneficiaries: Wills should contain a clause that outlines the assets to be bequeathed and the division of these assets. A beneficiary to a will could be any individual who is of sound mind and has attained the age of 18 years. If these criteria are not fulfilled, the property will be held in their name until the conditions change.
  • Appointment of an executor: The will appoints an executor. An executor is a person nominated by the testator to execute the terms of the will. Usually, trusted family members or lawyers serve as executors. The details of the executor are stated in the will.
  • Testamentary intent: The will declares that it was drafted with testamentary intent and should be used for succession only and not any other purpose.
  • Signatures: Signatures are one of the most important components of a will. The laws governing succession require a will to be signed by the testator, as well as two witnesses. The witnesses sign the document as confirmation of the mental capacity to enact a will, along with their identity.
  • Revocation of will: The testator states that they have absolute powers to revoke the will at any time during their lifetime, either expressly or impliedly. This allows the testator to create new wills to reflect updated circumstances in their life.

Conclusion

Can you use a deceased person’s bank account to pay for their funeral? In most cases, the answer to this question would be “Yes.” However, the answer to “Can you use a deceased person’s bank account to pay for their funeral?” could be a “No” when the owner of the account was the sole owner and died intestate. In this situation, the answer to “Can you use a deceased person’s bank account to pay for their funeral?” lies in the discretion of the State-appointed executor. Even if someone had a general Power of Attorney during the deceased person’s life, they will not be able to access their funds.

Dying intestate would cause serious issues for your family after your death. To ensure that this does not happen, get a will drafted immediately.

ezyLegal Editor

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