How to close a bank account

How to close a bank account for yourself or someone else and how to close a bank account for someone who has died

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It’s easy to close a bank account and shouldn’t take up much of your time but you’ll need to do it properly including paying off any money owed and transferring any balances to your new account. 

Here we look at how to close a bank account, one for yourself, or someone else, and how to close a bank account for someone who has died.

How to close a bank account for yourself

If you need to close a bank account you should check with your bank what it requires you to do. 

You will usually have the option of closing the account online, through an app, in a branch, on the phone, or by post.

If you choose to close it in a branch you may need to bring proof of your identity, such as your passport or driving licence.

Accounts that are in debt will need to be cleared before the account can be closed. If you have credit in your account, this can be withdrawn or transferred to a new account.   

You should also destroy any debit cards or chequebooks associated with the account when you close it.

How to close a bank account for someone else

You will only be able to close a current account for another living person if you have the authority to do so.

This will usually be the case if you have been granted this position by the person who owns the account, such as through financial Power of Attorney, or if you have a third-party mandate, which allows a nominated person to handle another person’s bank account.

Depending on the agreement in place, you should be able to close the account for the other person but there may be restrictions in place. Your bank or building society should be able to give you full details and explain the process.

How to close a bank account for someone who has died

When someone dies, their bank account will need to be closed. This doesn’t apply to joint current accounts as the surviving partner will inherit the account. 

Any money in the bank account is usually then added to the person’s estate. If the account is in debt, this will need to be paid off by the estate.  

Each bank or building society has its own rules on this, so always check what’s required. It may be the case that money can be settled by the bank when the account is closed, or you may need to apply for probate to process this money. 

If you need to close the bank account of someone who has died, you will usually need to show a copy of the death certificate along with a will, if there is one. Usually, if there is a will the executor of the will oversees closing financial accounts.

If there is no will, you may have to show evidence of your relationship to the deceased person. The bank will let you know what to bring but you will usually need to also show two forms of identity, usually a passport, identity card, or driving licence.

When any current account is closed the owner (or someone appointed by them) will be able to access details about the account for five years, under rules set out by the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA).

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Rebecca Goodman
Freelance personal finance journalist

Rebecca Goodman is a freelance personal finance journalist, regularly writing for The Independent, The Guardian, The Sun and a range of specialist publications. Covering all aspects of finance, Rebecca has worked in the sector for the last decade and specialises in insurance, household finance and consumer issues.