I’m trying to find out my father’s bank accounts after he passed away.
Do you know of a definitive way to search for online banks all at once? Something similar to the search ‘My lost account’, but for an active account.
It turns out to be very difficult – KH, via email
It can be a painstaking process to search through a family member’s estate, without each individual bank and energy supplier needing to know that they have passed away.
George Nixon, from This is Money, answers: We are often approached by readers who discover old savings accounts in their relatives’ estates and want to see if they owe any money.
But this is a different question as you are not looking for details of one account, but of all.
My Lost Account offers this service for dormant accounts, which have not been in activity for three years.
The service is quite comprehensive, as it includes tracking programs managed by trade organizations representing 30 banks, all 43 building societies and National Savings & Investments.
Unfortunately, not quite the same service is offered when it comes to accounts that may still be active.
The Building Societies Association recommends that you first check your father’s assets for bank statements, letters, emails, or other correspondence from financial firms or other utility companies, which give an indication of the accounts he has that are still active.
What you need to make a claim
To submit an application to the DNS, the notifier needs the full name, date of birth, date of death, last address and death certificate number.
If they have difficulty with the online application, they can call 0333 207 6574.
According to Equiniti, 93 percent of reports pass checks to make sure they are not fraudulent and that the details match.
Where details don’t, the report is still passed on to banks, but they can come back to the reporters to request more details.
In addition, there is a service that was launched two years ago that you refer to in your email.
Called the Death Notification Service, it began in June 2018 after a three-year campaign by our sister title Money Mail to make it easier for survivors to notify banks that their relatives had passed away.
Rather than contacting account providers individually, they can notify them all at once through the service.
According to Equiniti, which manages the DNS, approximately 56,000 people have used it to make 145,000 reports since its launch.
That equates to an average of slightly more than two and a half banks per person.
Those making a report should be contacted within 10 days of the report, the service says.
They can create one online, with assistance over the phone, by creating an account or without doing so by submitting the deceased person’s details, including the death certificate number, their own details, and any account details they know They make it faster for banks to find out whether those accounts are still open.
Most of Britain’s major banks have signed up with the Death Notification Service, a one-stop shop that allows survivors to notify banks at once that their relatives have died.
While this is attributed to making life easier, the service is unfortunately not all-inclusive.
Although the service’s membership has grown from six banks and building societies at launch to 23 now, with the signings of Britain’s and Leeds’ largest banks and national building societies, a large number still aren’t.
This is Money understands that mutual societies have largely not signed up because of the fees and concerns that it is primarily aimed at checking account providers, such as Britain’s largest banks.
Should you use an heir hunter?
While this applies to estates and estates that go beyond just bank accounts, some may consider using an heir hunter or similar service to track down unclaimed estates.
However, these services can charge you or even be fraudulent, and those considering them should exercise caution before signing up.
This is Money explained what people should know in a story last year.
Meanwhile, plans for utilities and telephone companies to join the service have yet to materialize, though Equiniti hopes this will happen “as soon as possible.”
And the process has not been smooth even among those who signed up.
An investigation by Money Mail in September last year also found that staff at 11 of 12 major bank branches did not mention the service, with staff in five falsely telling them to contact the banks individually.
In response to This is Money’s questions, Equiniti noted that customer feedback “requires more companies to support their customers by joining the service.”
But they said, “The purpose of the Death Notification Service is to provide customers with a customer-centric, fast service with the guarantee that a company will contact a reporter within 10 days.
“ We believe that without the involvement and consent of the companies we work with, and by adding brands and sending notifications without a high level of security or a guarantee of response from the company, as is sometimes suggested, more confusion and risk would arise for through the grief of a death. ‘
However, until the service is fully expanded, it seems that relatives like yours will still need to contact individual financial institutions where their relatives have had accounts.
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