How to Access Bank Account of Deceased Person In Nigeria even if You are the Next of Kin or Not

It has happened to many people where their relatives die leaving fat sum of money in their bank accounts without their children having access to that money. To access the bank account of a deceased family member, friend, and benefactor in the event of his or her death is a very important subject worth discussing.

This is a step-by-step guide on how to access bank account of deceased person in Nigeria even if you are the next of kin or not. This guide will help you if you pay certain attention to every step of the process.

Ordinarily, when someone dies, they normally leave wills behind with executors who will carry out the wishes of the deceased person. An issue arises when someone who is very rich dies intestate (without leaving behind a valid will).

But all banks make provisions for account holders to clearly state who their next of kin is so as to reduce the avoidable litigation processes involved in accessing the bank account of a deceased person.

To access bank account of a deceased person in Nigeria by others is difficult if the next of kin is late or an infant.

If the next of kin is dead, many family members of the deceased person can lay claims on the account especially if the wife of the deceased person is also late (maybe they were involved in a car crash simultaneously), but the bank in its authority guided by their policy and state law of Administration of Estates (court judgment) and these determine who the beneficiary becomes. Before a next of kin or indeed anyone else can access bank account of a deceased person in Nigeria, there are certain conditions and requirements expected of this person.

See the: Top 20 Banks In Nigeria you Can Bank with Without Problems

Bank Requirements

Get a probate letter. A probate is an order given by the judge or magistrate appointing a person as executor (a person who is not a lawyer appointed to carry out the wishes of the will) of an estate (money and property owned by a dead person) when a competent probate court has certified that the will is authentic.

This letter must be tendered to a bank before anyone can access bank account of a deceased person in Nigeria. The court process involved in ensuring that the will is real is called proving the will. Getting this letter involves some processes in Nigeria.

The Nigerian law which guides the estates of deceased persons is the Administration of Estates of laws of the federating states in Nigeria (it varies from state to state in Nigeria but they basically have the same foundation).

This law was made to ensure that the wishes of the deceased person are obeyed and to ensure that unscrupulous elements do not hijack the estates of the deceased person.

This is also referred to Grant of Authority. Grant of Authority comes in 3 forms:

» Grant of letter of administration without will. This applies where the person dies intestate (dies without a will) and couldn’t appoint executors. This is more difficult to deal with. The administrator takes the position of an executor here.

» Grant of letter of administration with will. This applies where the testor (deceased person) leaves a will without executors on hand or the appointed executors are late too or the executors are not up to 18 years or the executor has denounced the will.

» Grant of probate. This is where the deceased dies leaving a valid will behind as well as executors mentioned or appointed in the will to carry out the wishes of the will.

In the case of grant of letter of administration without will, what usually happens in this situation is for the contestants of his account to write to the management of the bank (sometimes through their lawyer) that the account holder died intestate so that the bank can give them the next of kin the deceased person used while opening the account.

The next of kin will then proceed further to get a probate letter from court so as to be able to access the bank account of the deceased person.

This often leads to other members of the family challenging the next of kin in court especially if they feel the next of kin doesn’t deserve it or there is some level of distrust of an account officer (especially if the deceased person was rich).

On the other hand, if a deceased person leaves a will, it is easier to handle but problems arise when the family of the deceased person objects the will.

In a situation where a valid will exists, it often takes about a month after the death of the deceased person before such authority can be given to the executor.

An executor must ensure the deceased is buried before applying for probate letter. To access bank account of a deceased person in Nigeria is difficult if the deceased dies without a will.

Grant of letter of administration without through solemn forms is applied when the will is being challenged by other family members.

It will go through a court process before the executors in the will can be given the authority to carry out the wishes of the deceased person.

The party contesting the validity or otherwise authenticity will appear in court as defendant. Note that the court reserves the power to grant a temporary administration pendente lite (pending the litigation) to preserve the estate.

After the litigation is over and the case is won, the following documents are required before a Grant of letter of administration is issued:

  • An application letter to the Probate Register requesting for Grant of letter of administration and the letter will contain identity of the deceased stating his names, marital status, address, profession and spouses and children (if any)
  • The date and place of death of the deceased
  • A death certificate of the deceased person issued by National Population Commission
  • The deceased was resident within the jurisdiction of the court in question before she/he died
  • Name of the administrators. The administrators are appointed by the court after litigation
  • Passport photographs of the applicant


A copy of the deceased will

The bank will expect you to produce a copy of the will where a deceased person mentioned your name as a beneficiary of the estate (account).

All wills have wishes of a deceased person clearly started on them, and the bank attorneys will have to investigate to ensure the will you have submitted is genuine, and this of course takes some time.

The deceased person’s copy of the will is one of the requirements needed to access account of the deceased person in Nigeria. In the absence of a valid will, the litigation described above will ensue.


All account details

This is also required before any claims on account can be honoured by the bank.

In an event where the account details are not stated in the will (which is rare), the beneficiary is expected to produce the details of the account.

These details include the account name, account number, nature of account (current, savings, fixed deposit, etc), Bank Verification Number (where necessary) and others. Without bank details banks won’t know the account in question so the request won’t be honoured.


An application letter with passport photograph attached

Your application letter alongside 2 passport photographs will inform the bank that the man in question is dead and as a result, you wish to empty and close his account or start operating the account.

If your choice is the latter, Diamond Bank PLC for example expects you to pick up a change of name form and change the account name so as to reflect your name and not that of the deceased person you start operating it.

Remember this happens after all the documents you brought have been confirmed and the entire process concluded.

The application form MUST come with all the documents and information listed above before the bank honours such requests. So, all banks demand that you write a formal letter to them in a bid to access bank account of a deceased person in Nigeria.

Final Moves…

When these requirements are met, you will be asked to go home and will be alerted when all investigations are concluded by the bank.

Yes, banks have to investigate to ensure that all information and documents provided are genuine. It will be the responsibility of bank lawyers to verify that the will and grant of letter of administration are genuine, while those in operations section in the bank will handle the rest.

To complete the entire process can take months or even years (when the deceased dies intestate) and may even be elongated if the case is still in court or lawyers go on strike (as this is not uncommon to Nigeria’s states judicial systems).

Remember, a court will not issue you a letter of probate if the matter is being contested in court. So, all outstanding issues concerning the account must be resolved before the bank processes your application.

To access bank account of a deceased person in Nigeria is easy when it is clearly stated who the next of kin of the deceased is (which is always the case), but banks will not easily grant this request when they get injunctions from courts barring them from doing so – this is always the case if the matter of who acquires the deceased person’s account is being debated in court and banks will proceed with processing the application of next of kin when the matter is resolved.

If you are extremely ignorant about these processes, I will advise that you appoint a family lawyer to take on this assignment. If you have any question, put it in the comments section below.

Read Also: Reasons Why You Should Prepare a WILL and Keep before you Die

If you need a lawyer to take you on this, kindly contact us. Share this guide as usual and let us know your questions and comments. Use the comments section below.

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  1. Kelly chima

    June 21, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    Sorry it’s actually #2m and nt #2k

  2. Kelly chima

    June 21, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Sorry it’s actually #2m and #2k

  3. Kelly chima

    June 21, 2016 at 8:15 am

    Pls…my dad die.and we have gone thru all processes and d court is demanding 4 #570k as commission wen d said moni in d account is nt up to #2k .is this right sir

    • Ifiokobong Rob

      June 21, 2016 at 4:04 pm

      This is not right and no good court will do this.

  4. Essien Oto-Obong

    June 15, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    My Dear Brother,
    My dad died intestate and i applied for a Letter of Administration. A probate stamped form was given to me to take to the bank and any other place where dad has claim(s) so that such can be stated on the form.
    What if there is a/are claim(s) due to dad, of which we are not aware prior to the granting of the Letter and we only become aware of them after the Letter of Administration has been finally granted? Would the same letter of Administration suffice for such claim(s).

    Thank you.

    • Ifiokobong Rob

      June 15, 2016 at 5:40 pm

      Definitely not. But in this case, you can request for a separate latter of administration that will incorporation the later claims. If you need help on this matter, kindly contact us. Thanks

  5. John

    June 3, 2016 at 4:26 am

    My deceased sister died leaving me the next of kin to all her account but I just discover that her boy friend whom she was staying and had a son with had gone to get a letter of administration from the court and claim all the money in her account. what can i do about this case.

    • Ifiokobong Rob

      June 3, 2016 at 7:24 am

      The best thing to do is to contract a lawyer to take over the case. Success!

  6. samuel

    December 4, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    Sir I applied for letter of administration, I was asked to go for publication which has been done,also I was told to wait for 21days,now my question is after 21days,what follows next also this 21days,does it include Saturdays and Sundays,thank you sir.

    • Ifiokobong Rob

      December 5, 2015 at 4:24 am

      You are told to go and wait for 21 days, this is to allow a reasonable time-frame for counter claims by any member of the public. Weekends are included in the 21 days. After this period go back to the bank and you will be told what to do next. It’s advisable you work with a Lawyer to do this. If you need a personal assistance on this contact us

  7. Adebayo

    November 2, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    Please how long does it take to get letter of administration and is it possible to get and use it from any state in Nigeria.


    October 20, 2015 at 7:09 am

    Pls…… am not clear with something, will the decease bank account be closed or valid for use after opening the estate account with the bank because i do not understand. though am still on publication for 21 days

    • Ifiokobong Rob

      October 20, 2015 at 10:52 am

      It will remain valid for use (although with no authorized access) after opening estate account until there is a new signatory decides to do otherwise. Hoe that helps

  9. Mu'azu Abdullahi

    October 19, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    I brought a Latter of administration to the bank and thy told me to open a new account I did it. How long it takes before thy will transfer the money to my account ?

    • Ifiokobong Rob

      October 20, 2015 at 10:56 am

      I can’t really say any time frame in this. I think the duration will depend on the bank involved.

  10. Michael

    September 4, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    pls,deceased died intestate;witot a will.we applied for customary letters of administratn which was granted.after tendering the letters of administration to the bank,d bank also demanded for wat dey call “estate account”. really confusing. i dont undrstnd. wat is estate account,and shud one go abt it.

    • Ifiokobong Rob

      September 4, 2015 at 9:02 pm

      @ Micheal, you are the one to open the estate account with the bank concerned, If you are the estate executor. Again, you are the one that will manage this account. An estate account is used to administer the deceased estates and properties after he/she have died. Hope that helps.

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