About 1 year ago, my mom passed away.
There are some things I learn with the experience of someone that close leaving us, but that is a topic for another day.
However, there are some administrative things that I can share first.
Today’s topic is about how you can get the money out of the deceased bank account if the estate isn’t too large.
Don’t Leave it Too Late to Settle the Financial Stuff
This is going to be damn embarrassing but financial bloggers are supposed to have their shit together.
In this case it was a major failure.
But as financial bloggers we try to learn from this experience so that you guys do not have to make the same f#$k ups we did.
When someone got sick, you will spend a lot of times focusing on the treatment, living the day to day struggles.
There is a tendency to not talk about the financial aspects.
One reason in my case is in denial, that now is not the right time to think about things. The major justification is that in the worse case scenario, the money aspect will be planned out by Interstate Succession Act of Singapore. Since majority of the medical costs, living costs can be provided by my brother and myself, things should be OK.
However, the problem is that in the scenario that your loved one passes, you are still going to find some way to get the money out.
And your loved one will passed in a short period of time or survive, and some time later. However, they will pass.
Some of these financial stuff, its better to know what you have to do, speak to someone more experienced, and do it well once.
After my mom passes, she left our family with some money.
There was no cash value insurance policy. There was no term death insurance payouts.
Her assets were:
- Singtel shares in CPF that was given to her during Singtel IPO
- Savings in 2 bank accounts
The CPF and Singtel shares in CPF portion was easy. That is because she made her CPF Nomination. The CPF Nomination tells CPF how to disburse your CPF assets when you passes.
There are some who haven’t made a nomination.
Do it soon. Make an Appointment to the CPF Office, they will bear witness and settle this for you.
I will leave this update for another day.
There were 2 sums in the bank accounts:
- $19,746 in an OCBC Account
- $5,600 in a POSB Account
Both these accounts are not joint accounts. There are joint accounts of my dad, myself with her. Those we could close down, retrieve the money and open a new account.
Now how do we get the money out?
Remember when I said my worst case scenario was to rely on the Interstate Succession Act to distribute? Well almost near the end of her time, someone told me it was A VERY BAD idea. I was thinking “that cannot be the case isn’t it?”
So I check with some of the people who know these things well. One of them was my university mate and fellow blogger and Great Eastern Financial Planner Royston Tan. He told me better to make a will, don’t leave it to the Act.
I still have my reservations, so I checked with my friend Christopher Tan from Providend. His advice was also similar, don’t wait for the Act, because it is very slow. That was when I realize I may have made an error in judgement in a major manner. (till today, I still have reservations about what both of them said, because their definition of slow and my definition of slow might be entirely different. I didn’t went down this rabbit hole, but if I did, I will let you guys know)
Long story short, there was no will, because before I could arrange anything, mom slipped into a coma and she was gone the next day.
So how do we get the money out
- without relying on the Interstate Succession Act
- without a will
Banks will allow you to close a Bank Account if it is Less than $5,000
The first thing I found out is that if the sum in the deceased account is small, or roughly less than $5,000, the bank will allow you to close the account and distribute the money to the next of kin.
In my mother’s case it was more than that.
So I had a dilemma how strict are they about this.
Since my mom uses this account to pay for the bills and less than $500 mortgage, I should let the GIRO reduce the sum gradually.
Until the idiotic son decide to filed with HDB to declare one of the main owner was deceased and to change how the mortgage that were left over is paid.
Fortunately, they are not so strict about the limit. A check with the higher ups, and they allow my dad and myself to retrieve the money.
You would need to bring down:
- death certificate of the deceased
- fill up the details of all the family members
- you might need the IC or a copy of the IC of all the family members
- the spouse (if alive) needs too be there
- and another person
We manage to close that account and get the money out in one day.
For Assets that are more than That but less than $50,000 – Go through Public Trustee
The $19,746 is a bit difficult.
We checked with the bank but there was no way that they would allow the money to be withdrawn with the same documentation.
The Usual 2 routes – Grant of Probate and Letter of Administration
There were 2 routes usually. It depends on whether you have a will or not.
If the deceased have a will, you will need to apply a Grant of Probate, where an executor will manage the deceased’s estate. Everyone I consulted told me you need a lawyer for this. The cost is above $1,200 for lawyer fees. Update 11 am 18 Aug: Was told by a friend who saw my post. He did his without a lawyer. You can do it on your own. This might be a future post. From what I heard, he spent less than me!
If the deceased do not have a will, the next of kin can apply for a Letter of Administration. These letters of administration serve as court order authorizing the next of kin to be appointed as the administrator to administer the estate and distribute the assets in accordance of the Interstate Succession Act. Everyone I consulted told me you need a lawyer for this. So the cost as above applied to it. Update 11 am 18 Aug: If you can do the tedious stuff yourself in Grant of Probate, what are the chances you could administer this on your own?
My Selection – Go Through the Public Trustee
I continue to search and came across the Public Trustee’s Office.
Then I realize that if the estate is not more than $50,000, we can go through this means. And from what I read, it seems a large part of it we can do it online.
In the FAQ section, the fees are laid out. So for $19,746, I calculated it to be $840.
Its an astounding sum, but its much less than that and probably something that I can give it a shot.
Firstly, the Public Trustee will also administer the deceased’s CPF money if the deceased did not make a nomination.
For non-CPF there are a list of things that Public Trustee cannot administer:
As you can see, there are a lot of exclusions, and some of them are pretty common such as if the decease have debts, the deceased is a sole lease, insurance policies where there are more than 1 beneficiaries.
In my mother’s case, it seems for simple cases like these, it fits nicely.
The whole process can be done online. So let me see if I can guide you. (You might want to read this page for a lot of frequently asked questions)
But I got to tell you.
The website sucks. A lot of stuff I keyed in once, then when I saved and come back when I have more information, its gone. I have to key in again.
To get started, go to e-services (let me know if the link does not work).
Pick Administration of Deceased Estate (Assets other than CPF /Baby Bonus / Edusave / PSEA Monies).
If you are a Singaporean, with a SingPass, the SingPass option should be chosen. This is an old image. Right now there is another option which is to login with your CorpPass for those logging in as corporate.
Choose Personal Transactions.
From this point there will be a lot of things to fill in, some which I cannot show.
Here are some things you will need:
- The deceased details (NRIC no, date of birth)
- The other name in a marriage certificate
- The decreased death certificate number
- Applicant’s details (in this case my details)
- Spouse details
- Spouse Bank Account Number and Bank Name
- Child details (iterate for number of children)
- Child Bank Account Number and Bank Name
- Share details (name of shares and quantity)
- Bank details (name of bank, account number, amount)
- Insurance details (name of insurance company, policy number, amount insured)
- Vehicle details (registration no, valuation based on PARF/COE Rebate, Transferee details, has the vehicle been fully paid for)
Here are the things to submit:
- Deceased’s Death Certificate
- Deceased’s Birth Certificate
- Deceased’s Marriage Certificate, Divorce Certificate, or Death Certificate if spouse is deceased
- Parent’s Marriage Certificate if applicable
- Identity Card of Applicant (me)
- Identity Card of Spouse, front page of bank account passbook or bank statement indicating the account number or death certificate if spouse is deceased
- Identity Card of each child age 21 and above, birth certificate, front page of bank account passbook or bank statement indicating the account number or death certificate if spouse is deceased (for each child submitted)
- Front page of bank account passbook or bank statement indicating the account number or fixed deposit receipt (this is the deceased bank account that we are trying to get out)
I got a few back and forth because the documents weren’t submitted well. I failed to understand something.
Here are some things.
Identity Card of each child/spouse birth certificate, front page of bank account passbook or bank statement indicating the account number or death certificate if spouse is deceased (for each child submitted)
Ok this one might look either or, but they actually want you to submit everything.
So what you can do is
- open a word document
- scan the front and back of your NRIC
- scan a copy of the latest bank statement which shows the name and bank account number
- scan your birth certificate
- past #2 to #4 into the word document. Make sure they are visible
- then save as PDF
Duration of Whole Procedure
I started doing this in 21st November 2017, but I realize I need to scan and consolidate a few things from my dad and brother.
The actual submission was 1st of Jan 2018, or 1 month later.
Due to some back and forth, It probably drag longer than usual.
I got the indication they will disburse the money into my account on 06 Mar 2018 or about 2 months later.
I find it pretty fast honestly.
Some how my dad and brother got cheque instead.
The amount was distributed based on the Interstate Succession Act. So my dad got half and me and my bro shared the other half.
The amount that they did not return to us amount to $838. That is pretty close to my original calculation!
Settle Your Finances, Keep them Tidy, Have a Will Before You Do not Have the Capacity to Do it.
All these things could be made much simpler if this person learn some personal finance management (how ironic)
- Have a will. In my case, I doubt you can rely on public trustee.
- Keep a very secure and private document where are your assets and liabilities. In order for your trusted person to get the money, without a will, you got to let them know where they all are. This could very well be the personal net worth and personal cash flow statements and tracking your net worth I been telling you guys to do. You just need to add in more things
- Keep a very secure and private document of your user name and password. This goes against the grain but for some reason this becomes very vital in some of the stuff that I will say in #5.
- Make some accounts joint with your parents, children or spouse. Where comfortable. There are a few accounts that we don’t have issue because they are joint. However, once you declare to the bank, you cannot keep them active. You will probably have to open another account later
- Sell off overseas liquid assets by trusted people. This one is more pertaining to estate duty and inheritance tax. If you are an investor with stocks and assets in USA or UK, or some other countries, there might be a death tax on the assets. For example in USA, other than the first US$60,000, your assets above that is subjected to 50% (!) tax. In UK, if my figures are correct the exemption is the first $325,000 pounds, above which is subjected to 40%. So this is hefty. If the trusted person have your account details, they can login and liquidate your assets. It might not sound right, but this taxation issue is contentious in the first place. For those with joint investment accounts, things should be ok
- Make your CPF nomination. Nuff said.
- The Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). LPA is egal document which allows a person who is at least 21 years of age (‘donor’), to voluntarily appoint one or more persons (‘donee(s)’) to make decisions and act on his behalf should he lose mental capacity one day. A donee can be appointed to act in the two broad areas of personal welfare and property & affairs matters.
There are a lot of other stuff that I have missed out, or too long for the scope of this discussion. But we will work with this first.
Lastly, after the passing, there are time to maneuver. I realize if I don’t declare, the banks don’t really know my mom passed away. A blogger I know told me that when a kin passed away, the blogger kept the bank account untouched for like 9 months.
The main reason I post so much, is because, when I need help, no one taught me these stuff. I have no lawyer friends (well Chris hasn’t passed his bar exams). Everyone say you need a lawyer. No one tell me how much I should get ready, so that I won’t be fleeced.
So I hope someone who were in the same situation get something out of this.
If you have some similar experiences, do share with us. So that those who search for this can find it.
Here are My Topical Resources on:
- Building Your Wealth Foundation – It is imperative you know these stuff as early as possible, because this is the most important stuff
- Active Investing – For the active stock investors. My deeper thoughts from my stock investing experience
- Learning about REITs – The Deeper stuff on REIT investing
- Dividend Stock Tracker – Track all the common 4-10% yielding dividend stocks in SG
- Free Stock Portfolio Tracking Google Sheets that many love
- Retirement Planning, Financial Independence and Spending down money