Closing bank accounts often lies within the responsibilities of the executor of someone’s estate. If you find yourself in this situation or you simply want to get a jump on your own end-of-life planning, you’ll need to know how to close down personal accounts. It’s a simple process and requires only a few straightforward steps.
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Tip: The other aspects of handling a loved one's unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
How to Close a Deceased Loved One’s Ally Bank Account
When you must cancel credit cards after a death or close a deceased loved one’s account at Ally, follow our steps. For this example, the assumption is that the account is owned by a sole owner, not a joint account. Closing a joint account follows many of the same processes but is simpler if you are the other account holder.
Step 1: Call the home office.
Because Ally is an online-only bank, you can’t visit a brick-and-mortar bank branch. Therefore, to get the process started, you’ll need to call in and let Ally know you must close an account.
While on the phone, they cannot provide you with any specific account information. However, Ally can tell you which documents you need to prove death and facilitate closure of the account.
Step 2: Gather documents.
Ally will need several documents from you to close the account. You must show each piece, otherwise, the bank cannot legally close the account.
The first piece of documentation is a certified copy of the person’s death certificate. This provides the bank with proof that the person whose account you want to close is deceased. By providing a certified copy of the death certificate, you ensure avoidance of fraud.
Proof of executorship
The second piece of documentation you need to provide is proof that you are carrying out executor duties. Only an executor of a person’s estate can close down bank accounts and distribute any remaining funds. To show proof, you will need documentation of executorship or a small estate affidavit.
This is the documentation that certifies you as the estate’s executor according to the deceased’s will or probate court. Qualifying documentation includes:
- Certified executorship
- Personal representative document
- Letters of testamentary
- Letters of administration
As long as you can provide one of the above to the bank, you’ve completed proof of executorship.
Small estate affidavit
If a person’s assets aren’t large enough to qualify for the formal probate process, you’ll get a small estate affidavit document instead of executorship documentation. The affidavit gives you the ability to manage a person’s remaining property, including bank accounts.
Proof of executor’s identity
Along with the above documentation, you’ll need to send proof of your identity. Thankfully, the bank can take any of the following forms of identification:
- Valid driver’s license
- Valid U.S. passport
- Immigration card
- Photo ID or non-photo ID
- Foreign government passport with proof of residence
- Permanent residence card
- U.S. military card or common access card
Step 3: Write or obtain a letter of instruction.
A letter of instruction is a detailed, non-legally binding document that explicitly states what the bank should do with any remaining funds in the deceased person’s account. A designated owner according to the will, a stated beneficiary, an assigned trustee, or a representative of the estate can write the letter.
Step 4: Mail all documentation.
Mail all collected documentation to the main Ally Bank office. To make it as secure as possible, ask the post office to require a signature upon receipt in addition to providing you with a tracking number. This way, you can be sure it arrived at the proper location and notified when the package is picked up.
Step 5: Connect with customer service.
It could take up to 10 days for customer service to contact you with the information provided. However, at this point, customer service has all the necessary information to close the account. After a phone call with you, the account will close and any remaining funds distributed according to the letter of instruction.
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How to Close Your Own Ally Bank Account
If you want to get a jump on personal affairs, it’s a good idea to take charge of your digital afterlife. Prepare paperwork and provide your appointed executor for items such as bank account closures and archiving social media accounts. Thankfully, when it comes to a bank account you no longer use, you can take care of that with just a few steps.
There are three methods to communicate your request for an account closure: calling, chatting when logged in, or sending a secure message when logged in. Ally does not allow mail-in requests.
Step 1: Call the home office.
There are three ways to get a hold of Ally’s customer service team, the first of which is to call them directly. By calling the customer service line, you’ll speak with an accounts manager who can help you directly.
Step 2: Talk to customer service.
When connected with a customer service representative, you can explain that you want to close the account. At this point, they will ask you several verification questions.
Step 3: Answer verification questions.
The verification questions are the same ones you provided when you first signed up for your account. You’ll need to answer each of these correctly for the customer service representative to proceed.
Step 4: Specify where you want funds sent.
If you have funds in your account, Ally will be able to remove them. You have the choice to:
- Mail a check
- Wire funds
- Transfer funds to a linked bank account
Step 5: Finalize account closure.
At this point, the account can close. The representative might ask for one final word of approval from you but you’ll be finished with the process by the time you end the call.
Step 6: Remove account information from personal records.
If you’re closing an account in preparation for your own end-of-life affairs, it’s important that this account is removed from personal records. If you have the information for your bank account in a password manager, for example, be sure to remove the information once you close it or make a note that the account has been closed. This will make it easier for the executor of your estate when determining which accounts need to be closed after your death.
Optional Methods of Account Closure
Ally offers the ability for its customers to close an account by chatting with a customer service representative if logged in or by sending in a secure message through your customer portal. For either one, you’ll need to be fully logged into your account and have identifying information such as your password, Social Security number, and verification information.
Chatting with a representative enables immediate account closure, similar to a phone call. Sending a secure message will start the account closure process but will add one or two days for communication to work between you and customer service.
Take Care of End-of-Life Matters
Closing bank accounts is just as important as the many other end-of-life matters, such as closing credit cards and distributing a person’s assets. Thankfully, with just a few simple steps, you can check this item off your list: “Ally Bank, close account — check!” and move on to other more pressing matters.
- “Death of Single Account Holder.” Resources, Ally, 2020. https://www.ally.com/resources/pdf/bank/letters-single-no-pod.pdf