What Happens to My Bank Account When I Die?

October 26, 2023
Bradley Campbell
What happens to my bank accounts after I die?
You need money in a checking account, so you can pay your bills on an ongoing basis. You also need money in a savings account for emergency expenses, such as when your roof springs a leak or your car gives you trouble. Yet, what happens if you die and money is left in your bank account? Ensure you have a clear plan in place for your money.
Bradley Campbell Tyler and Mineola TX Lawyer
Bradley Campbell
Bradley Campbell has over 35 years of experience. A trusted advisor and counselor, Attorney Campbell will help you find solutions for your case by focusing on personal attention, communication, and professionalism. If you need an attorney for probate, business law, or real estate with the experience and understanding to serve you with the individualized care and attention that your case deserves. Attorney Campbell provides consultations throughout the week at our convenient locations in Tyler, TX and Mineola, TX.

What if you die and money is left in your bank account?

What happens to that money will depend on whether you have a joint account. If you don't have a joint account, what happens to your money will depend on whether you have a beneficiary designated for your account.

Motley Fool’s recent article, “Here's What Happens to Your Bank Account When You Pass Away,” says that married people commonly open joint bank accounts. Sometimes, non-married family members open accounts jointly for different purposes.

If you have an account with a spouse or another person, and you die, the account will generally become the property of the joint holder. If you designate a beneficiary on your bank account, that person will generally be entitled to receive the money in it. This is true even if you don't have a will.

How are bank accounts similar to other types of financial accounts?

Like retirement or money market accounts, bank accounts can have a beneficiary named in the account information to whom the account assets will pass. Even with a designated beneficiary on your bank account, the account will likely have to go through the Texas probate process. Sometimes, a will could make it so you can avoid probate. However, even if not, a will drafted with an experienced estate planning attorney, like Bradley Campbell, can make it clear who the money in your bank account is supposed to be assigned to.

What if I don't have anyone to leave my money to?

If you don't have a spouse, children, or other relatives, and you pass away without having designated a beneficiary for your bank account, after the probate process, the money in that account will likely become the property of your estate. However, this will generally only occur if you don't have a will or a beneficiary on your account and have no clear beneficiaries that can be identified through the probate process.

It may be that you have no family but have an old friend that you want to leave your money to in the event of your death. Another way to pass on your money and property is through naming a charitable organization in your estate plan to which your assets will pass after you are gone.

Can I just leave my bank account password to a designed friend or loved one?

In the digital age, our lives are increasingly online—from financial transactions to social media engagements and cloud-stored family photos. It's more and more common for Texas residents to do the majority of their banking online. However, keep in mind that your loved ones cannot simply login to your accounts without specific consent. Sharing passwords, for instance, not only violates service terms but also federal laws.

Why is estate planning something I should consider for protecting my money?

It's a good idea to put a will in place, even if you don't have much in the way of assets. A valid will on file makes it more likely that your wishes are carried out upon your death. If you're certain you want a specific person or charitable organization to receive the funds from your bank account after your passing, make them your account's beneficiary.

If you're uncertain how to do that, talk to your bank and ask what paperwork you must submit. Taking a little time to designate a beneficiary could make it so a person you care about gets your money after you pass, instead of becoming state property. Book a consultation with Mineola Estate Planning Campbell Law Firm to discuss how you can create a clear path for your money and property after you pass away.

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