Inheritance law /

Death of a close relative. How to access the bank account of a deceased person?

The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult moments in life, often coming with responsibilities that include settling financial issues. Settlement of receivables related to the bank account of a deceased person is one of them. Understanding legal procedures in the context of inheritance law can be crucial to the smooth execution of this activity.

After the account holder dies, the money accumulated in the account should be paid by the bank to the deceased’s heirs. For this to be possible, the heirs must take legal steps that will enable them to receive the testator’s savings and eliminate the risk of facing legal consequences related to the withdrawal of funds without proper authorization.

Do I have to inform the bank about the death?

Keep in mind that there is no automatic way to notify the bank of the death of the testator. Usually, such information is received by the Bank from relatives, in the form of a death certificate.  If the bank does not have such information, it handles the customer’s affairs according to the existing rules. On the other hand, confirmation of death in the bank is not always equivalent to closing the bank account of the deceased. Banks apply different rules and procedures in this regard.

Who has access to the account of a deceased person?

Those entitled to withdraw the deceased’s funds are his heirs, both testamentary and statutory. This includes the spouse, children, parents, and secondarily siblings, grandparents, or other relatives (according to the order specified by the Civil Code). Withdrawal of funds is possible in such a case after the presentation to the bank of a certificate of inheritance, or a final court order confirming the acquisition of inheritance.

Can a co-owner of an account withdraw money after the other owner’s death?

Can a co-owner of an account withdraw money after the other owner's death
Unless otherwise stipulated in the bank account agreement, each of the co-owners of the account may dispose of the money accumulated in the account independently. In the event of the death of one of the co-owners, the bank, depending on the norms contained in the regulations and the agreement, may terminate the agreement and divide the account balance into equal shares, convert the joint account into an individual account, as well as operate the account under the existing rules.

What are the powers of the account proxy after the death of the account owner?

The power of attorney over the account expires upon the death of the bank customer. Upon the death of the account owner, the proxy loses all powers that he or she had during the account owner’s lifetime. However, it may happen that the bank, in a situation where it is not notified of the death of the testator, will disburse the funds to the proxy or to a person to whom the testator provided data allowing him to make withdrawals or transfers on his behalf. It should be noted that these are unauthorized actions and are subject to reporting to law enforcement authorities.

How to get information about the bank accounts of a deceased person?

How to get information about the bank accounts of a deceased person
Banks and SKOKs are required to provide aggregate information on all bank accounts of a deceased person, including joint accounts (without disclosing the details of the joint holder), as well as bank account agreements terminated or expired either as a result of death or after 10 years from the date of the last instruction.

Heirs looking for accounts belonging to a deceased person can use a service provided by the  . The service makes it possible to obtain full information about a person’s accounts in all banks and SKOKs operating in Poland. It is enough to submit an application to any bank in person or through a proxy. There is a fee for submitting the application, set by each bank individually.

Temporary blocking of the account

It is worth remembering that after the death of the holder, his bank account is temporarily blocked by the bank until all inheritance formalities are settled. This is a safeguard of the estate until the legal issues related to the inheritance are clarified.

Procedure for gaining access to a bank account

Steps to be taken to gain access to the bank account of a deceased person:

  1. Obtaining a copy of the death certificate – this document is necessary to confirm the death of the account holder.
  2. Confirmation of inheritance – through a court order or a certificate of inheritance, depending on the form of inheritance (will or statutory).
  3. Certificate of payment or exemption from stamp duty – the heir must pay the corresponding inheritance tax.
  4. A visit to the bank with the required documents – the bank needs the above documents to allow access to the bank account.
  5. Request for release of funds – the heir submits an application and, after authentication of identity and authorization, can request release of funds from the account.

Summary

The process of gaining access to a deceased person’s bank account requires heirs to know and follow the applicable inheritance law. The above information should make it easier to navigate the required steps and help resolve the deceased person’s financial affairs quickly and fairly.

Bearing in mind the extensive legal consequences of inheritance procedures, as well as the feelings associated with the loss of a loved one, we encourage you to contact a specialized lawyer to help you through the procedures involved in inheriting a bank account. Proper legal advice will allow you to operate safely and securely within the current inheritance law, ensuring that your heirs have due access to your financial resources

If you have any questions or concerns, we encourage you to contact our law firm. Our inheritance lawyers will be happy to answer your questions. Inquiries can be directed to: [email protected]

Author team leader DKP Legal Marta Oleśkowska
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