Taking care of a loved one’s end-of-life matters is a critical role that many family members find themselves taking on. If you’ve been assigned the role of executor of a loved one’s estate, it’s up to you to ensure that your family member’s accounts are properly closed, any remaining funds are distributed, credit cards are properly canceled, and other aspects of their digital life and safely tucked away.
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By taking care of these accounts, you keep hackers from accessing accounts, draining funds, or charging your deceased relative with purchases they’ve never made. Thankfully, closing a deceased loved one’s account, or closing your own account, is a relatively simple and straightforward process. With just a few steps, you’ll check one more item off your to-do list.
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 PNC Bank Account
Closing a loved one’s PNC bank account is similar to closing other bank accounts or accounts at financial institutions. As long as you follow these few steps, you should have no issues closing your loved one’s account.
Step 1: Call customer service
To get the process started, the best place to begin is by calling customer service. While the customer service representative cannot give you specific details about your loved one’s account, they can tell you what steps you’ll need to take to close it down. They’ll also be able to provide you with a list of documents necessary to close down the account.
Step 2: Collect documents
Since you are closing an account that is not yours, you’ll need several documents to prove who you are and your right to close the account. These documents are some of the same ones you need to cancel credit cards after death, so keep several copies on hand for varying financial institutions.
For all official business, you will need a certified copy of your loved one’s death certificate. An uncertified copy is never good enough for business at this level, since those are easier to produce.
To obtain a certified copy of your loved one’s death certificate, you’ll need to apply to the state’s Office of Vital Records or ask for an additional copy through the mortuary. When applying through the Office of Vital Records, you will need to prove your relationship to the deceased, give proof of your identity, and state your reason for obtaining the certificate. Each copy will cost around $10 or more, depending on the state.
Providing proof of your executorship is one of the most important pieces of documentation required, along with your loved one’s death certificate. Only the executor of an estate is allowed to distribute any remaining funds and close the bank account.
As with copies of your loved one’s death certificate, you should keep several copies of your proof of executorship. Having extra copies on hand will help expedite the process of carrying out your varying executor duties with financial institutions.
Proof of executorship can come in one of two ways: executor documents or a small estate affidavit. Only one of the following executor documents is required to provide proof of executorship, including:
- Certified Executorship
- Representative Documentation
- Court-Issued Letters of Testamentary
- Court-Issued Letters of Administration
If the estate is too small for the probate process, you might have received a small estate affidavit, instead. A certified copy of the affidavit is enough proof for the bank to allow you to close the account.
Executor’s Proof of Identity
Along with proof of your executorship, you’ll be required to provide proof of identity. If visiting in person, you’ll want to bring your identity with you. If mailing in documents, you’ll need to mail in a photocopy of both sides of your identity. Forms of identity can include:
- Driver’s License
- US Passport
- Green Card
- Non-US Passport
If you have a different proof of identity than the options listed above, call PNC’s customer service to ensure they can accept it before you visit the bank branch or mail in your documentation.
Step 3: Write a letter of instruction
A letter of instruction is a document that instructs the bank on what to do with the final funds left in the account. This is not a legal document but is simply a way to ensure the bank receives proper instructions for the account. The letter can be written by the executor, a beneficiary, a trustee, or another representative of the estate.
Step 5: Visit a bank branch or mail documents
If you’re close to a physical bank branch, the easiest way to close your loved one’s account is to go to the branch in person. Once at the branch, a manager will work with you directly, certify all documentation, distribute funds according to the letter of intent, and close the account all in the same visit.
If you cannot visit a physical location, the next best thing is to mail your documents. Ask USPS to require a signature at the other end in addition to providing you with a tracking number. With both a signature and tracking number, you can be assured of when the package is received.
After the bank receives your mailed package, a customer service representative will contact you to finalize the account closure.
How to Close Your Own PNC Bank Account
If you want to get a jump on tidying up your own digital afterlife rather than leaving it for someone else, start with your bank accounts and unused credit cards. Closing your own account is much simpler than having a loved one do it for you.
Step 1: Transfer remaining balances
If you have any money still in your PNC bank account, you’ll first need to transfer all funds to a different account or cash them out. At the same time, check for any automatic bills paid through the PNC account and reroute them. Once no funds remain and no bills are connected to the account, you can proceed with the next steps.
Step 2: Visit a local branch
If you’re in the vicinity of a local bank branch, paying a visit is the easiest and fastest way to close your account.
Once you’re at a local branch, a manager will assist you. They’ll ask for your proof of identity and then they’ll check to make sure there are no remaining funds in the account. They might also ask why you want to close the account.
After you verify your identity and answer a few remaining questions, the manager will officially close your account while you’re standing there.
Step 3: Submit an online request
If unable to visit a local branch, log in to your secure customer portal and submit a closure request through their chat system. At this point, you’ll be asked several verification questions to show proof of your identity. After the customer service representative checks to make sure there are no remaining funds in your account, they will complete the account closure process.
Step 4: Keep closure documentation
It’s always a good idea to keep documentation of bank closure. If a disputed charge comes through even a day later, you’ll have proof that the account was closed.
Step 5: Update personal files
As soon as you close a bank account, remember to remove the account information from files and places such as your password manager. Make a note that the bank account has been closed out so your loved ones don’t have to check with each bank for verification later on.
Whether you’re the executor of a loved one’s estate or you’re tidying up your own affairs, closing out bank accounts is a critical part of your responsibilities. Get a jump on the process now, if you can, and be prepared with all the proper documentation for a smooth, hassle-free process.
- Adrian McKensie, PNC Customer Service Representative. Personal interview. 04 December 2020.