How to Open Bank (Deceased / Estate) Accounts for a Dead Person.

How to Open Bank (Deceased / Estate) Accounts for a Dead Person. Daily Law Tips (Tip 818) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)

Introduction:  

Since death is one of the characteristics of a living thing, then planning for death is part of living. Like birth, death comes at its time and its victim must let go all movable and immovable properties that he/she acquired and owned. Upon the death of the owner of a property, there is always the need for the property of the dead to be managed and administered by the living in memory of the dead and for the benefits of the family of the dead. This often may include, the management of the income and interest yielding investments and property left by the dead for his loved ones.

Defrauding the estate of a dead person is common, often due to lack of accountability and transparency of Estate Executors and Administrators of the property of dead persons. Having a bank account (Deceased / Estate Account) in the name of the estate of a dead person is one of the few ways of avoiding mingling and undue access to the funds of a dead person by Administrators and Executors. This also makes accounting and reporting on such property easier.

This work reveals the steps and requirements for a bank in Nigeria to open and maintain a deceased account for the estate of a dead person. It considers the following issues; Why Does the Estate of a Dead Person Need Bank Accounts?; Steps and requirements for opening bank accounts for the Estate of a Dead Person; and ends with actionable advice to Administrators and Executors in Nigeria.

 

Why Does the Estate of a Dead Person Need Bank Accounts?

Where a person dies with a WILL, the dead person (the deceased) may have died with or without a WILL. Click to read more about the legal implications of dying with or without a WILL and how to manage the property of a dead person  <https://sabilaw.org/how-to-recover-property-of-the-dead-in-nigeria/>. Where the deceased made a WILL before dying, the WILL must have appointed persons to manage his property upon his death and such persons are called the Executors. They manage the property in line with the desires of the dead person and for the benefit of the beneficiaries of the WILL, like the loved ones, children and institutions. Any sane person can be an Executor of the WILL of a person. Wise people make Will to ensure that their property are managed according to their wishes and desires even after death.

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Where a person dies without a WILL, the court will appoint persons (often relations) to administer the estate (property) of the dead person and the managers are known as Administrators. Unfortunately, unlike in WILL, where there is no WILL, the dead person cannot choose the persons to manage his property rather the court of law will choose such persons. Any person of sound mind and good character can be appointed an Administrator, especially, persons with family ties to the deceased. Click to read more on how to obtain Letters of Administration from a court; <https://sabilaw.org/how-to-obtain-letters-of-administration/>.

There is a hierarchy of persons that may be appointed as Administrators. For instance, a wife/husband will be considered first, before a son/daughter may be considered. Also, a parent will be considered first before a brother/sister. Click to read more about the hierarchy of persons that can inherit the property of a dead person; <https://sabilaw.org/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-144-who-can-inherit-property-of-a-dead-person-in-nigeria/>

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To avoid abuse, promote transparency and ensure accountability in the management of the property of the dead, it is advisable to open bank accounts (deceased account) in the name of the dead person. The account will be managed by the living and for the living. Managing and administrating the property and monies from the estate (property) of a dead person could lead to confusion and distrust.

Mingling such monies with the personal monies of the Administrators/Executors is common and often leads to fraud. Hence, the need for a separate bank account (deceased account / Estate) in the name of the dead person but operated by the Administrators/Executors of the estate of the dead person. This will also ensure that clear reports showing inflows and expenditures are easily tracked. Also, the death of an Administrator/Executor will not affect the estate of the dead person that was being managed by an Administrator/Executor before death.

 

Steps and requirements for opening bank accounts (Deceased Accounts) for the Estate of a Dead Person:

With the rise in financial crime, terrorism and the need to protect funds, Nigerian banks are more serious with the processes of opening bank accounts. First of all, a bank must understand the purpose of the desired deceased account and the true identities of the prospective bank account owners and operators. In this case, the deceased account belongs to the beneficiaries of the dead person (ie, the loved ones that have inherited or that will inherit the property of the dead person). The operators of the deceased account will be the Administrators/Executors that are managing the estate of the dead person on behalf of the dead person and for the beneficiaries of the estate.

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To ensure a reliable “Know Your Customer” (KYC) approach and in line with relevant laws, banks will request for information and documents to prove the identity of the dead person and that the dead person is truly dead. Also, the bank will need information to show that the Administrators/Executors seeking to open a deceased account are truly and duly appointed Administrators/Executors, with the clear powers to perform such task. Then, the bank will require to truly identify and know the Administrators/Executors that will be operating the deceased account.

To achieve a reliable KYC for a bank account (deceased / estate account) of the estate of a dead person in Nigeria and in line with banking laws and regulations, Nigerian banks will request for the following information;

  1. Death Certificate (Many banks prefer death certificates gotten from the National Population Commission and not the ones from hospitals).
  2. A WILL/Grant of Probate or a Letter of Administration from court.
  3. Government issued means of identification of the Administrators/Executors of the Estate that will be the signatories to the account.
  4. Passport photograph of the signatories to the account.
  5. Proof of payment of Utilities/bills of the signatories to the account, showing their physical addresses.
  6. Completed Referee Forms (where the desired bank account is a “Current Account”)
  7. Bank Verification Number (BVN) of the signatories to the account.
  8. Phone numbers and emails of the signatories to the account.
  9. National Identification Number (NIN) of the signatories to the account.
  10. Signatures of the signatories to the account.
  11. Competed Account Opening Form.
  12. Any other information peculiar to the estate or the bank or that may be introduced by government.

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Conclusion:

Since death is inevitable for now, then, it is only sensible to plan for it. In planning for death, one should decide the fate of the property (and liabilities) that he/she may leave at death. Make a WILL and let you wishes and desires outlive you.

For the surviving ones that will manage the property of the dead, accountability is key. Fighting the temptation of fraud and mismanagement of the property of a dead person starts with the opening of deceased accounts. Surely, “Deep-Shame” will include being convicted for embezzling the property of a dead person.

Actionable Advice: Get bank accounts (deceased / estate account) for the property of the dead person that is in your care and be transparent in your dealings. Speak to your lawyer and your banker.

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My authorities, are:

  1. Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 318 and 319 and the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
  2. Onyekachi Umah, “Who Can Inherit Property Of A Dead Person In Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 18 July 2018) < https://sabilaw.org/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-144-who-can-inherit-property-of-a-dead-person-in-nigeria/> accessed 5 August 2021
  3. Onyekachi Umah, “How to Recover Property of the Dead in Nigeria. (A legal guide on Probate Matters in Nigeria)” (com, 10 March 2016) <https://sabilaw.org/how-to-recover-property-of-the-dead-in-nigeria/> accessed 5 August 2021
  4. Onyekachi Umah, “How to Obtain Letters of Administration” (com, 19 February 2021) <https://sabilaw.org/how-to-obtain-letters-of-administration/> accessed 5 August 2021
  5. Onyekachi Umah, “List Of Agreements And Transactions That Are Invalid If Handled By A Non Lawyer In Nigeria” (com, 3 October 2019) <https://sabilaw.org/list-of-agreements-and-transactions-that-are-invalid-if-handled-by-a-non-lawyer-in-nigeria/> accessed 5 August 2021
  6. Pic credit: Punchng. com

How to Open Bank (Deceased / Estate) Accounts for a Dead Person

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How to Open Bank (Deceased / Estate) Accounts for a Dead Person

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