An inquiry into handling of deceased estates has found instances of poor practice and non-compliance with the Banking Code of Practice among the six banks in the study.

“Managing the affairs of a loved one who has passed away is difficult. Unfortunately, our inquiry found practices that were contributing to the difficulty of managing a deceased estate,” the Independent Chair of the Banking Code Compliance Committee (BCCC), Ian Govey AM, said.

“While there were instances of good practice, and the issues varied across the banks, we found inadequate systems, processes and procedures were making a difficult time worse for the bereaved.”

The inquiry’s report said the poor practices and non-compliance fell into three categories:

  • Fees and charges for services no longer provided – Banks continuing to apply fees and charges to accounts of deceased customers despite being notified of their passing.
  • Failing to act within timeframes – Banks failing to act on requests or instructions within the obligatory 14 days of receiving the necessary information.
  • Lack of respect and compassion – Banks failing to treat representatives and family of deceased customers with the respect and compassion expected in the circumstances.

“Our inquiry found instances of fees being charged for service no longer provided on deceased estates in all six banks we reviewed. And delays in responding to requests or acting on instructions from people managing a deceased estate were too common,” Mr Govey said.

“As a result of these poor practices, customers perceived a lack of respect and compassion from the bank at a time when they needed it to be understanding, flexible and responsive.”

Following the inquiry, the BCCC has notified three banks that it will be commencing investigations into their compliance with deceased estates obligations under the Code.

The BCCC also expects the banks not subject to the inquiry to audit their practices regarding deceased estates.

The inquiry’s report sets out nine recommendations for all banks to consider.

“All banks need to look closely at their systems and processes to identify the areas that need addressing,” Mr Govey said. “We expect banks to understand their obligations under the Code and to ensure their management of deceased estates is fully compliant within 18 months.”

The BCCC’s CEO, Prue Monument, emphasised the significance of the report and its findings.

“Several years ago now the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry showed that banks had a lot of work to do. “It was reasonable for the community to have expected more progress and seen improvements sooner,” Ms Monument said.

“And while we have seen work from the banks on this front, with some more progressed than others, clearly not enough has been done.

“Our report is a timely reminder for banks – they need to prioritise improvements in line with community expectations.”

Ms Monument expressed the BCCC’s expectation that this report will lead to better outcomes for both people handling estates of loved ones as well as banks.

“Fixing the issues we identified will improve processes for consumers and help relieve the stress of managing the estate of a loved one. But doing so will also be good for banks,” she said.

“Failing to stop fees, for example, creates additional work and can contribute to a loss of customer goodwill and harm a bank’s reputation.”


  • The BCCC, an independent body that monitors bank behaviour, has been looking at compliance with Code obligations for deceased estates since the provisions were introduced in the new Banking Code of Practice in 2019.
  • In this latest enquiry, the BCCC asked six banks to audit the way they managed deceased estates, and it conducted a survey of consumers and their representatives. The inquiry involved all four major banks and two other banks.
  • Chapter 45 of the Code sets out obligations for managing deceased estates. Under Chapter 45, banks commit to treating a deceased person’s representative with respect and compassion and provide clear and accessible information on what they can do to manage accounts. Chapter 45 requires that, once notified of a customer’s death, a bank will identify and stop charging fees for products and services that can no longer be provided and make refunds if necessary.

The full report can be accessed here.

About the Banking Code of Compliance Committee (BCCC)

Codes of practice set standards of good industry practice for financial firms when dealing with current or potential customers.

The BCCC is an independent committee that monitors and drives best practice compliance with the Banking Code of Practice. It examines banks’ practices, identifies current and emerging industry-wide problems, recommends improvements to practice, sanctions banks for serious compliance failures, and keeps stakeholders and the public informed.

Media enquiries

[email protected]