5 Best Banks for Estate Accounts: Fees, Minimums, etc Detailed

You can open an estate account at a bank when a person dies (with or without a will) to liquidate the estate and distribute it to heirs. Most banks offer estate account services for large estates under their Wealth Management or Private Bank departments. If the decedent had a trust account, then the trust account can be converted to an estate account, making the process easier. (For more information about trust accounts, see our list of the best banks for trust accounts.)

Estate accounts generally have a minimum account amount. They also typically charge a one-time, percentage-based fee to administer the estate account. This fee is usually based on the fair market value of the assets on the date of the decedent’s death. Some banks, however, calculate the value of assets differently, so be sure to check with your bank.

For smaller estates, a basic checking account is usually sufficient; you can open one at almost any bank. In that case, there are usually few, if any, additional fees involved.

Below, we’ve compiled our list of the best banks for estate accounts. To get the details on opening an estate account with these banks, we spoke to customer service representatives and advisors at each of the banks listed.

What You Need to Open an Estate Account

To open an estate account, you will generally need the death certificate of the decedent as well as the person’s full legal name and Social Security number. If the person died without a will and the estate goes to probate, you will usually need to present the court/probate documents.

You will also need proof of the assets, including verification of market value. Banks may require you to obtain an appraisal of assets to verify the current market value.

Note that additional fees other than those listed below may apply for additional services, including but not limited to litigation, liquidating business interests, real estate management, and complex tax audits.

What We Recommend

Bank of America tops our list of the best banks for estate accounts due to its flexible minimum amount and reasonable fees. If low fees are most important to you, U.S. Bank is also a good choice; it only charges a flat, $40 annual fee, with no additional fees unless you make trades from the account.

Comparison Table

You can use the table below to compare each bank’s minimum account amount and fee range. Sort by any column using the arrows at the top of the column. You can also click on each bank’s name or scroll to the list below for more information.

Bank Minimum Account Amount Administration Fee Range
Bank of America $500,000 to $600,000 2% to 3%
U.S. Bank $250,000 Up to $75
J.P. Morgan No set minimum 1.5% to 2.75%
Wells Fargo $1,000,000 1% to 2.5%
PNC $1,000,000 2% to 3%

The List

In comparing these banks, we considered minimum account amounts and fees. We’ve ordered the list beginning with the most highly recommended.

Bank of America

  • Minimum account amount: Around $500,000 to $600,000; may be negotiable
  • How fees are calculated: Fees are based on the fair market value of all assets includable in the decedent’s estate as of the date of death.
  • One-time administration fees:
    • 3% on the first $2 million of the estate account
    • 2.5% on the next $3 million
    • 2% on the remaining trust balance
    • $20,000 minimum fee
  • Find out more

U.S. Bank

  • Minimum account amount: $250,000
  • How fees are calculated: Flat $40 annual fee; no additional fees if you make no trades from the account
  • One-time administration fees:
    • $75 transfer fee if you transfer the account to another institution
    • $4.95 per trade for self-directed trades from the account
    • $29.95 per trade if you ask the bank to make trades on your behalf
  • Find out more

J.P. Morgan

  • Minimum account amount: No set minimum account amount; typically works with clients who have around $7 million in assets
  • How fees are calculated: The value of the estate is the sum of the gross value of the decedent’s assets that pass by will or by intestacy (if the decedent had no will), plus 75% of the gross value of assets held in trust and assets that pass by operation of law.
  • One-time administration fees:
    • 2.75% for under $5 million ($125,000 maximum fee)
    • 2.5% for $5 million to $10 million ($225,000 maximum fee)
    • 2.25% for $10 million to $20 million ($380,000 maximum fee)
    • 1.9% for $20 million to $30 million ($480,000 maximum fee)
    • 1.6% for $30 million to $50 million ($750,000 maximum fee)
    • 1.5% for $50 million to $75 million (no maximum fee)
    • 1.5% for amounts over $75 million (no maximum fee)
  • Find out more

Wells Fargo

  • Minimum account amount: $1 million
  • How fees are calculated: The fees are based on the value of the decedent’s gross estate on the date of death.
  • One-time administration fees:
    • 2.5% for the first $5 million of the estate
    • 2% fee for the next $5 million
    • 1% fee for amounts over $10 million
  • Find out more

PNC

  • Minimum account amount: $1 million
  • How fees are calculated: Fees are calculated as of the date of death and are based on the value of assets that would be included in the decedent’s gross estate for federal estate tax purposes.
  • One-time administration fees:
    • 3% on the first $1 million
    • 2.5% on the next $1 million
    • 2% on all amounts over $2 million ($10,000 minimum fee)
    • A 15% discount applies to assets over which PNC Wealth Management has sole or shared investment management discretion.
    • Fees for accounts greater than $20 million are negotiated separately.
  • Find out more