Evidence indicated customer had breached terms and conditions

Deceased customers' accounts, Account information,
Vijay learned soon after his father’s death in October 2020 that his aunt, the executor of the estate, had withdrawn $30,000 from his father’s account before telling the bank about his death. The aunt later renounced her role as executor and Vijay was appointed in her place. He complained to the bank about the withdrawal saying the bank should not have allowed a withdrawal after his father’s death. He asked the bank to reimburse the estate. The bank declined his request, saying it had been unaware of his father’s death at the time of the transaction and also pointed out that the transaction had been authorised using his father’s banking details, indicating his father had not kept those details secure, in breach of the terms and conditions for his account. Dissatisfied with this response, Vijay asked us to investigate.
October 2021


Our investigation

Until a bank has actual notice of a customer’s death, the customer’s account operates as usual as if the customer is still alive.  It was not disputed that the bank had not been advised of Vijay’s father’s death when his aunt had withdrawn the funds, and so the bank was able to act on the instruction to withdraw funds from the account.

It was clear, however, that Vijay’s father had not authorised the withdrawal and the terms and conditions of his account said he would not be liable for any loss resulting from an  unauthorised withdrawal unless he had acted dishonestly or negligently or had failed to take reasonable steps to protect his banking details. Information supplied by the bank showed the withdrawal had been authorised after correct entry of Vijay’s father’s internet banking credentials and password, along with a code generated on a physical token that had been issued to Vijay’s father as additional security for his accounts.  This token needed a PIN to gain access to it. It was clear to us the aunt not only had his internet banking details and password but also the physical token and access PIN – all indicating he had either given these to her or not kept them secure. Either scenario was a breach of the account’s terms and conditions. The bank was not therefore liable for the loss resulting from the withdrawal.


We did not uphold the complaint.                           

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