Accessing The Finances Of A Deceased Relation

In a recent article on wills preparation, we discussed how to draw up a valid will which can conveniently distribute our properties when one is no more. We also discussed how the law mediates in the distribution of properties in the case where a loved one dies without a will.

In either case, the property to be distributed may come in the form of money which may be saved in a bank account or on a mobile money wallet. Because these monies are in the possession of a third-party institution (bank or telecommunication network), certain steps must be followed in order to pay the money to the rightful successor.

In the case of a bank or financial institution, the family must submit a notice of death to the bank. This may be an obituary and a death certificate. When these are presented and verified, the account is marked ‘Customer Deceased’. Debit activities on the account are not allowed. However, any investments in the deceased’s name are allowed to run until maturity.

The executors or administrators of the deceased’s estate must present certified true copies of court-issued probate (where there is a will) or letters of administration (in the case of intestacy) to the bank. They must also present these together with their valid ID cards as proof of their identities. When all the documents have been presented and verified, a debit transfer is passed to close the account of the deceased. A payment order will then be issued in favour of the Executors or Administrators. The amount paid must be indicated on the reverse side of the original of the Probate or Letters of Administration which must be given to the Executors or Administrators.


Similar documentation is required for retrieving money from the deceased’s mobile wallet. The executors or administrators of the estate must present the death certificate and the probate or letters of administration at the offices of the telecom service provider. Again, the executors or administrators must prove their identity with a valid ID card. Additional documents that prove the death such as an obituary may be presented for the money to be transferred.

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