We try to keep this as simple as possible but there are some processes that we must follow. Therefore, to help you understand what to expect, we have summarised what would probably happen for different types of product or service held with us.
To move money out of the deceased’s accounts and subsequently close them, the Personal Representative is suggested to visit one of our branches with the following documents:
- Original Grant of Representation issued by the High Court/Original Confirmation Notice issued by Director of Home Affairs
- Original identification document of the Personal Representative
- Original identification document of the deceased
We would then assist you to complete a request form for the release of money from deceased’s account for you during your branch visit.
Once we have seen the necessary identification and paperwork, we can release funds held in HSBC banking accounts or savings products normally within 15 business days, subject to our right to set-off any amount owed to us by the deceased. Interest will not be charged on accounts that are overdrawn from the date we are notified of the death.
For joint accounts, once we have formal confirmation of the death of a joint account holder, we would remove the deceased from those accounts so that they would now be held under the name of the surviving account holder(s)1. Please note that account number(s) will remain unchanged. For current accounts, a cheque book with the updated account holder’s name(s) can be issued at your request. Standing Instructions and Autopay that have been set up on the joint accounts will continue as normal. Therefore, please also let us know if any of the instructions need to be stopped.
We need to cancel all credit cards of the deceased as soon as we are notified of the death. This includes any additional cards that are linked to the deceased’s credit card account. Any outstanding balance on the credit cards must be paid from the estate. If there is any credit balance, it will be returned to the deceased’s estate. Please remember that any Standing Instructions/Autopay set up under the card accounts (eg for payment of utility bills, insurance premiums) will no longer be processed after the cards are cancelled. Therefore, you will also need to make alternative arrangements by directly contacting the relevant merchants, organisations or service providers.
We will freeze the loan/overdraft from the date we are notified of the death and there will not be any further debit of interest or charges. The loan/overdrawn amount will then need to be repaid from the estate. However, for joint loans, the surviving account holder can continue to make the usual repayments or repay the loan in full.
Once we are notified of the death, we will update our records to take note of the deceased status. The mortgage loan will not be frozen and the outstanding balance will continue to accrue interest. However, the account used for repayment of the mortgage loan (if in the sole name of the deceased) will be frozen and no further repayments can be made out of that bank account. Therefore, in order to continue to make regular repayments to the mortgage loan and prevent it from going into default status, you should contact us to discuss your available options.
One of the available options is that while the deceased’s bank accounts remain frozen, any person who wishes to make the mortgage repayments on a temporary basis can contact us and we may allow him/her to make such repayments if he/she signs an undertaking that he/she does not acquire any interest in the mortgaged property despite making the repayments. This is a short term solution, typically up to 12 months only, to avoid the mortgage from going into default status during the interim period while the Grant of Representation is being applied for. After the issuance of the Grant of Representation, the Personal Representative should have the authority to make the mortgage repayments out of the deceased’s assets and the temporary arrangement as described above would cease.
Please arrange for the Death Certificate to be registered with the Land Registry. You should also seek legal advice on how the property should be handled. If the deceased was the sole owner of the property, we would normally expect a transfer of ownership of the property to the beneficiary of the deceased’s estate. If the beneficiary wishes to take over the mortgage, please contact us before the transfer. Usually we will require the beneficiary to apply to us for a new mortgage before the transfer and we will decide whether to grant the loan based on the circumstances of the beneficiary. If the property is under the Government Housing Scheme or other subsidized housing schemes, you should check with the relevant authority on the procedure for transfer of ownership.
If the deceased co-owned the property with other persons, then the procedure will be different, depending on whether they were joint tenants or tenants-in-common and you should seek legal advice. For joint tenants, the surviving owner(s) will be able to take over the ownership. For tenants-in-common, each owner has a designated share of the property and only the deceased’s share will be inherited by his or her beneficiary. Please contact us before any transfer of ownership and we will discuss with you whether or not the new owners are required to make a new mortgage application.
In any case, if the property is jointly owned, the surviving owners should ensure that they continue to pay the mortgage repayment instalments in full (and not just their own share). They should not wait until the Grant of Representation is obtained.
This is only a brief illustration of the processes and each case will have to be considered on its own facts. Please approach us to discuss the details and we will be able to provide specific information based on individual circumstances. The information provided, however, is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice.
Investments held under the name of the deceased with HSBC such as shares, bonds or unit trusts, are considered part of the estate. Trading will not be allowed after notification of death. The intended Personal Representative should apply to us for a full statement of the deceased’s investment holdings, similar to deposit accounts, and include details of the investment account(s) and the relevant holdings in the Schedule to the Grant of Representation.
Once the Grant of Representation is obtained, the Personal Representative can then instruct the Bank how to deal with the investments maintained in the deceased’s accounts. The Personal Representative may instruct us to sell the investment holdings and then release the sale proceeds to them or to transfer those holdings to Personal Representative’s investment account with HSBC or another financial organisation.
Safe Deposit Locker
If the deceased had a Safe Deposit Locker (including joint Safe Deposit Locker) with us, the intended Personal Representative will need to approach the Home Affairs Department to obtain a ‘Certificate for Necessity of Inspection of Bank Deposit Box’ before making an appointment with us to inspect the Safe Deposit Locker. The inspection2 will take place in the presence of public officers authorised by the Home Affairs Department, an HSBC officer and the holder of the Certificate. The holder of the Certificate will have to prepare an inventory of the contents of the Safe Deposit Locker. This inventory will be included as a supporting document evidencing the assets held by the deceased when applying for the Grant of Representation. For jointly rented Safe Deposit Lockers, the surviving joint lessee(s), if different from the intended Personal Representative, should also be present during the inspection. Unlike joint deposit accounts, the contents of the Safe Deposit Locker do not automatically pass to the surviving joint lessee(s).
Provided that the Schedule to the Grant of Representation contains the necessary details about the Safe Deposit Locker, including the branch at which it is located, its number as assigned by us and its contents, the Personal Representative will be allowed to retrieve the contents of the locker.
If the surviving joint lessee(s) would like to retain the Safe Deposit Locker, we can keep the locker held under the name of the surviving lessee(s) after removing the name of the deceased.
The Estate Beneficiaries Support Unit of the Home Affairs Department is responsible for this area and their contact details can be found in useful contact.
2 During the inspection, if a Will is found in the Safe Deposit Locker and the person it appoints as executor is different from the person holding the Certificate, the inspection will cease immediately.