In Part 2 of our Legal Life after Death series we discuss some of the practical things which happen someone passes away, who you need to notify and what assets may be frozen.
Who to Notify
When someone passes away, aside from notifying family and friends, there are numerous people and organisations which need to be notified. Below is a list of some of some of the key people and organisations which need to be advised.
- Australian Electoral Commission
- Australian Taxation Office
- Department of Veterans’ Affairs
- My Aged Care
- Banks, credit unions and financial institutions
- Credit card and hire purchase providers
- Superannuation fund
- Health benefits fund
- Health professionals such as doctor, physiotherapist, dentist, podiatrist, optometrist
- Clubs such as the Returned and Services League
- Professional advisors such as solicitor, accountant, financial advisor
- Executor of the Will
- Funeral insurance, funeral plan or funeral bond company
- Insurance companies
- Funeral director
- Education provider such as school, TAFE or university
- Employers and/or employees
- Public services such as library and state authorities
- Telecommunication providers such as telephone, mobile and internet
- Utilities such as gas, electricity and water
- Landlord and/or tenants
- Membership, subscription or account providers, including and online accounts
The Australian Death Notification Service (ADNS), provides people with a single online location to notify multiple organisations that someone has died.
When the deceased’s details are entered, the ADNS validates them against the Australian Death Check (ADC). The ADC holds all the death registration data recorded by each Births, Deaths and Marriages authority across Australia.
Once the details are validated, you can elect the relevant participating institutions and services to inform and provide your contact details for any next steps.
Freezing of assets
When a person dies any assets they own in their individual name are ‘frozen’ until they are legally dealt with pursuant to a Court order (discussed in more detail in Part 3 of our series).
A bank will freeze a deceased customer’s individual accounts when notified of their death. This includes transactional accounts, term deposits, credit cards and loans. Banks won’t necessarily know that a customer has died, therefore it is important to notify the bank as soon as possible.
You cannot withdraw any amount from a deceased’s bank account and you should not do so even if you have a signed cheque or the deceased’s debit card and the pin number. Any funds in a deceased’s bank account become part of their estate.
Any funds held in joint accounts will generally continue as normal and while you should still notify the bank of the death for the bank’s administrative purposes, any joint accounts should be unaffected.
Release of money for payment of funeral expenses
Sometimes banks and financial institutions will release funds for payment of funeral expenses when presented with a valid tax invoice from funeral service providers. Each bank and financial institution has a different policy in this regard so contact the deceased’s bank directly for confirmation of their processes.
Emergency maintenance distributions
While the assets of a deceased generally cannot be dealt with or distributed until a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration has been obtained, in New South Wales an Executor may, in limited circumstances, make a distribution from the estate for the proper maintenance, support or education of a beneficiary without such grant where a person entitled to receive part or all of the deceased’s estate was, at the time of the deceased’s death, wholly or substantially dependent on the deceased. The circumstances where such ‘emergency’ distributions are permitted are limited and as Executor’s can be held liable where they fail to distribute assets in accordance with a Will, it is recommended that professional advice be obtained before any such distribution is made.
At Black and Blanco, we take the time to understand your personal circumstances and wishes and make things easy by coming to you, outside of office hours if necessary and providing fixed fee quoting. Contact us to organise an obligation free 20 minute telephone consultation.