Yes, sometimes you can access a bank account as an executor before probate is granted. For example, if the bank is in joint names and therefore held in the executor’s name too, they will still be able to access the account. However, if they wanted to transfer the bank account into their sole name, they would need to present the death certificate to the bank.
However, in some cases, probate is not needed. This usually happens when someone dies with very little assets or savings in their name. Therefore, a grant of probate won’t be required to access their bank account.
In saying this, each bank has its own rules and some may ask you to show a death certificate or some kind of ID to be able to access an account.
It is worth noting that it is illegal to take money from a bank account of someone who has died. When the bank is told about the death, they will freeze the account which means that no money can be taken out.