Bank won’t release funds after someone dies

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Posted and filed under Legal Issues in Spain, Wills, Probate, Donation and Inheritance.

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The bank won’t release funds after someone dies. This situation can be so frustrating. After a parent or member of the family dies, you go to the Spanish bank, show them the death certificate. And they still will not
unblock the account or release funds.

Why the Bank will not release funds?

It doesn’t matter whether the assets of the deceased in Spain are a property, car or bank account. These cannot be accessed by heirs or next of kin without a Spanish probate process being done. For a bank account it is much simpler but there are still costs involved and sometimes it is not even worth doing it.

The first thing we ask a client is where the bank account is (bank and branch) and how much do you believe is left in it now? Also is the bank aware thatthe card holder has died? Then we need to know if they had a Spanish or home country Will and who was the next of kin? If you send us this information, we can start to advise what to do.

A Recent Case

A recent case (which we have permisssion to use) was where the Bank is Santander and the branch was in Chiclana. There is €2000 euros in the lady’s account, who has passed away. When her son was out in Spain, he went to the branch and told them. There is a Will and he is the next of kin. But the Bank would not agree to release the funds without a Spanish probate.

With the information provided, we referred to our solicitor and he calculated the costs.

We would need an original death certificate with a Hague Apostille, which we would need to send to Madrid to get a certificate confirming there is no Last Will in Spain. We have to prepare a deed of transfer and also prepare documentation for the Tax office (even if tthere is no tax, it has to be done).

When there is no Will you would need to apply for Letters of Administration in the UK (https://www.gov.uk/applying-for-probate). If there is a home country
Will then we need that Grant of Probate and Will apostilled.(https://www.gov.uk/get-document-legalised). This can get expensive.

We also need copy passports and NIES for the deceased and beneficiaries. Plus usually a power of attorney document (apostilled) as this works out
generally cheaper than flights to Spain. But still there is the cost of a draft which we would prepare and email. However, also, again you need to pay a Notary and for a Hague Apostille.

Costs

In the case above, the balance of the account was 2,000€, and the client calculated it would cost as much as that to complete the process. It simply was not worth doing.

It is worth checking with us as it can vary depending on what paperwork is already available.

You can check the UK or Irish government site of how much the Letters of Administration will cost. And add up the Spanish side and other country’s side and then you will know how much you will get back. (You will need to pay costs and complete before the money will be released. That could take over a month after completion).

In the UK it is different, as for more modest amounts under 5k in bank accounts, there is no need for a Probate. But unfortunately the situation is not the same in Spain,

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