ANZ and Other Banks and Deceased Estates

I have been acting on behalf of a relative for some time, managing her financial affairs and her banking through the ANZ, having jumped through all the requisite hoops to be a signatory on her account. I am thus a well established customer with proven credentials to manage her finances.

A few months ago, she died leaving me as Executor of her Will.

I went online, researched the steps required following her death and applied to the ANZ to open an account in the name of the Estate. This lead to a protracted trail of red tape and inconvenience as I provided all the requisite documents including death certificate, a copy of the Will and Probate documents.

The Probate document is all that’s really required, as it gives me total control of the Estate and distribution of funds. My identity was already well established. However, ANZ is now demanding additional documentation which does not appear to be justifiable in any way. They now want the names, addresses and birthdates of all the beneficiaries named in the Will !!!

Now banks are notorious at refusing to divulge any information about anything, yet here they are wanting to know details of individuals who are neither customers nor have any association with the ANZ whatsoever. I cannot see any reason why they should be given that information, and it certainly isn’t necessary as a pre-requisite to honouring the Probate document or my legitimacy as Executor. It seems to have no legitimate purposes at all. I do not plan on divulging this private information.

Thoughts ??

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I am not a solicitor or in any way familiar with the process, but I did take a look at the ANZ guide for dealing with deceased estates and releasing funds.

Seems that if you set up an ‘estate of’ account with them to handle the money, the beneficiaries need to fill out a form before the transfer will be done.

I’d post the ANZ document here except that PDF’s are blocked. The document name is ‘deceased-estates-brochure.pdf’

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I created an Estate account with NAB (as Executor), once shares & house sale proceeds were deposited to the account, I disbursed the funds to the beneficiaries - without ANY reference/forms etc, via electronic banking.

The only minor hitch was the daily $40K transfer limit - so deposits were stretched over several days: otherwise a seamless process.

Maybe consider closing the ANZ account, once you have created another one with a more amenable Bank/Credit Union…!

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The Estate account doesn’t have to be with ANZ. If they are being too difficult, try a different bank!

Some details of the beneficiaries would usually be listed in the Will (which you already provided to ANZ, right?).

Have you tried telling ANZ that you haven’t located the beneficiaries as yet and hence you don’t know current addresses or birth dates (if not already in the Will)?

Generally this forum does not provide legal advice.

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After this experience I’ll certainly be looking elsewhere ! The problem of course is that virtually all banks are hard to deal with. The days of walking in off the street and having your questions answered are long gone. I might try NAB - I’ve never banked with them. I had similar problems before the lady died with transfers and the daily limits, and of course they charge for any transfers they do themselves.

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Ironically, half the beneficiaries have already died ! If I told them that they’d probably start asking for death certificates etc etc. I’m not going down that rabbit hole.
It’s just data collection for no reason. I should ask them for their addresses and dates of birth!!! I’d have just as much justification - i.e. none. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Yup … been there, done that. I’ve been right through those pages and it looks so straightforward. Filled in all the forms, brought in all the documents … still they want more - and the “more” isn’t shown on their website. They refuse to open an “Estate of” account until I give them all the beneficiary details, which isn’t going to happen. The Ombudsman will be the next port of call.

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Remember though that much of this originates with government. Banks (and telcos) are forced to be annoying by the government, which is not to say that they don’t have their own innate ability to be annoying. :wink:

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If it is a new government requirement, which is a possibly for financial tracking/anti-money laundering purposes, other financial institutions will also impose similar requirements and the Ombudsman won’t be able to do much.

If you do consider other banks, it might be worth investigating if they have the same requirements as you might only be transferring your headache elsewhere.

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Are you dealing directly with the ANZ deceased estates staff? My experience with several other banks in similar situations and the ANZ whom we have banked with the local branch staff are not necessarily well trained in the area.

A second observation is the only reference I could find in the document @Gregr referenced “executor/beneficiary”. This appears to be saying or and not and. It’s something that you may need to discuss further with a legal firm estate specialist, especially if you intend to stay with the ANZ for the Estate Account.

Looking to our most recent personal experience and prior with grants of probates in two of Australia’s larger states and banks, the ANZ requirement as described is most unexpected.

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At the moment we have reached an impasse - but I agree, it is unusual and inexplicable. My reading of the relevant Government legislation and the ANZ documentation suggests that this is overreach by the staff. I don’t think it’s got anything to do with any new regulations. ANZ is vague when asked to justify it. Fortunately I’m not in any great hurry. None of the funds are urgently required.

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I had a similar experience with CitiBank.

I had been approved authority to manage all my mother’s accounts and Power of Attorney for a considerable time, with all the paperwork that entailed. Not long after my mothers death they cut off all access to the accounts. I was not even permitted to see the accounts.

CitiBank has no physical presence here, and apart from their website with limited on-line chat, the only two means of communication is via one phone number and a snail mail address. I tried the chat, and then phoned several times to get help to work out which of the multitude of forms I needed to be filled out including that I was executor. The call centre operators were ignorant of what was required outside their very limited boilerplate scripts. They steadfastly refused to pass me over to the area that dealt with deceased estates, nor would they provide an email address.

II took a punt on which form to use; filled it out and printed it off. On 1 June 2022, National Australia Bank Limited acquired the Citigroup Pty Ltd (CitiBank) consumer business in Australia, so I approached the nearest NAB for assistance in forwarding the required documents including a certified copy of the death certificate, a certified copy of the Will and Probate, and certified copies of my Aust. passport and driver’s licence. I was advised that they had no connections with CitiBank yet, so I sent the package by registered mail.

A month later I received a form letter acknowleging receipt of the form and documents, and saying that I had not informed them of my nationality or occupation.

For an semi-astute observer in CitiBank, the Australian passport would have been a bit of a give-away… Clearly they were less than observant or diligent so I replied that I was Australian; and informed them that I had no occupation. Having dealth with them for some time while my mother was alive, and after her death, I had enough of their offaciousness, incompetence, and lack of communication so I also informed them that I wanted all money transferred to the CBA where I had ‘Estate of…’ accounts set up ready, and specified the accounts.

After nothing happened for two months (four months after I sent in the required forms), I asked the Australian Financial Complaints Authority for assistance.

In the meantime I had a look at the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Rules Instrument 2007 (No. 1) legislation. Part 4.2 deals with the information banks and other businesses have to collect. The information required for an individual is quite basic, at a minimum (at 4.2.3):
(1) the customer’s full name;
(2) the customer’s date of birth; and
(3) the customer’s residential address.

For a business at a minimum they require (at 4.2.4):
(1) the customer’s full name;
(2) the customer’s date of birth;
(3) the full business name (if any) under which the customer carries on his or her business;
(4) the full address of the customer’s principal place of business (if any) or the customer’s residential address; and
(5) any ABN issued to the customer.

So clearly, individual institutions determine what they need to collect over and above the requirements. In my case, the nationality and occupation were optional to the legislation.

I received a letter from CitiBank acknowledging my complaint, and said that
"…we have requested you to confirm your nationality and occupation. We received your correspondence dated 5 January 2023 confirming these information.

Regrettably, the details were not recorded and you were still asked to provide your nationality and occupation."

Apologies were tendered, and “the funds will be transferred to your nominated bank account within 3-5 business days.

It did take about five days, but the money has now been transferred.

Over the last months I have discussed our CitiBank woes with other people, and it’s amazing to find out how many people have similar tales of obfuscasion, stonewalling, offaciousness, etc., and refusing to release peoples’ money for a lot longer than required.

Perhaps banks see the deceased estates as a ‘soft spot’ where they can get away with behaviour that would otherwise be completely unacceptable?

I suggest you too approach the Australian Financial Complaints Authority for assistance.

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I did a search for “banking ombudsman”, but there doesn’t appear to be one.
The only option for complaints apparently is The Australian Financial Complaints Authority.
However I think I would put in a complaint to the ACCC.
Both authorities are available online.

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Fortunately, I have just received a call from the bank telling me that perhaps they don’t need that information after all! That might have been due to the fact that I told them I wasn’t planning on giving it to them!! I might complain further up the food chain, because they shouldn’t have asked in the first place.

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The Banking Ombudsman has been adsorbed into AFCA.

Another party that has oversight is APRA (https://www.apra.gov.au/). You can also make a complaint to them.

APRA, ASIC, and the ACCC are all pretty opaque when it comes to what, or if they act on when, complaints have been made.

AFCA will respond, I have found them weak in their responses to concerns I have raised in the past, but that is only my view (which is likely quite jaundiced).

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Thanks! Sadly a lot of organizations are pretty weak when asked to actually stand up and be counted. I’ll check those out.

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It may be worth raising with the OAIC whether or not the bank request has been properly made in respect of protection of personal information. There are also limited exceptions in which a third party can legally provide sensitive information.

An organisation or agency must usually ask for your consent to collect sensitive information. There are situations where they don’t need to, for example, where an individual, in need of urgent medical treatment, is unable to consent to the collection of their health information because they’re unconscious.

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it’s interesting when they ask for information they don’t need. Years ago I applied for a NZ passport for my baby (born in Australia, dual citizen) and the NZ Consulate wanted a copy of my marriage certificate. They insisted they had to have it until I asked them “are you saying you would not issue a passport to my child if I were not married to her father?”

They realised it was not necessary and I didn’t have to supply it.

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i worked in this field albeit long time ago
Probate is king
involving beneficiaries is fraught with danger and not approriete. Wespac should be reported to the Probate Court as they are willfully interfering with your responsibility as Executor

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The OP referenced ANZ, and did not point out Westpac.

It’s a matter of legal opinion as to what rights a grant provides an executor relative to the request from the ANZ advised in the OP.

As noted in a more recent post,

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