To protect the rights of heirs, the law requires us to temporarily freeze access to any accounts or safe-deposit boxes held by the deceased and their spouse or partner (including joint accounts). That doesn't always make things easy when it comes to dealing with the deceased's banking affairs. At KBC, we have specialist estates advisers who make sure that you can still pay the bills.
Why are the deceased's bank accounts frozen?
When one of our account holders or their partner dies, we are legally required to do two things:
- Send a due and proper tax return to the tax authorities
- Release the deceased’s assets on their accounts and the contents of their safe-deposit box to the duly entitled heirs
That's why we must temporarily freeze access to any accounts or safe-deposit boxes held by the deceased and their spouse or partner (including joint accounts). We do this the minute we hear of the death. Access to accounts and safe-deposit boxes held in the sole name of a surviving partner who officially cohabited with the deceased does not need to be frozen.
Ensure bills are still paid
We make money available to you on an accessible account
One of our estates advisers will immediately take steps to make sure that you, as surviving spouse or legal cohabitee, are paid a sum on an accessible account to cover day-to-day expenses.
The amount cannot exceed half of the total credit amounts on all current, savings and time deposit accounts and is in any case capped at 5000 euros1, which applies as a statutory maximum for all banks combined.
The money is made available to you on the account that your bank card is linked to, into which your salary or pension is paid and from which most automatic payment orders originate. When you inform us of a death, you can specify an account for living expenses. This can also be a joint account, so you can keep using your bank card and – in certain cases – your credit card.
Certain bills can still be paid from frozen accounts
- Direct debits and standing orders linked to the surviving partner's accessible account or frozen personal account continue in effect. Automatic savings orders are cancelled.
- As next of
kin or heir, you can give certain types of bills to your estates
adviser, who will pay them if the applicable conditions are met.
That includes bills for:
- Funeral expenses
- The deceased's remaining medical costs, including health insurance payments
- Costs relating to the deceased's last home
- Instalment loan repayments
- Safe-deposit box rental
How are frozen accounts affected?
- No further withdrawals can be made from the frozen accounts, but cash deposits and credit transfers onto the accounts are still possible. Payment orders already entered prior to death for execution at a later date will be carried out.
- All debit cards in the deceased's name are cancelled. Those in the surviving partner's name continue to work. If these cards are linked to a frozen account, they can only be used to check the account.
- Pinto Visa credit cards or any of our Flex range of credit cards held under a contract in the name of both partners are cancelled indefinitely. This means that not only cards of those types held in the name of the deceased, but also those in the surviving partner's name can no longer be used. The surviving partner can request a new credit card from our Flex range once the assets on the accounts have been released. If the credit contract is only in the name of the surviving partner and the card is linked to an accessible account, the card can still be used.
- Any other credit cards in the deceased's name are cancelled. Those in the surviving partner's name continue to work. If these cards are linked to a frozen account, they will be temporarily unusable for transactions.
- Powers of attorney over the frozen accounts from known reserved (or 'forced') heirs2 remain in effect until such time as the estate has been settled, though the power of attorney only entitles the agent to view the account. Powers of attorney from non- (or unknown) reserved heirs are scrapped. Your expert can enter a new, informative power of attorney once we know for sure that you are a reserved heir. Powers of attorney over safe-deposit boxes to which access is frozen will lapse.
- The online banking subscription in the deceased's name is cancelled. As the surviving partner, our KBC Touch and KBC Mobile Banking apps only let you view details of the accounts
When are we able to make frozen accounts accessible?
We may only release assets on the accounts once:
- we have filed the tax return
- we have a deed or certificate of succession showing who the deceased's heirs are and there are no tax or social security debts due (your personal estates expert will be happy to give you details of how and where you can get this documentation)
Tip: the time taken to settle the estate is significantly reduced if all tax and social security debts like personal income tax, property tax and motor vehicle tax are paid before applying for a certificate or deed of succession. Remember that this does not just concern the deceased's tax and social security debts, but also those of the heirs.
- all the heirs have signed a declaration instructing us how the assets should be distributed
- any other legal formalities have been completed (such as where there are heirs resident abroad)
As soon as we receive the certificate or deed of succession, any
safe-deposit box held by the deceased can be opened and an inventory
made of the contents. This is done in the presence of the surviving
spouse and all heirs. The tax authorities also have to be invited to
attend, but they will rarely actually come. Once we've made an
inventory of the contents of the safe-deposit box and we have
permission from all the heirs, we can release what's held in the box
provided there are no tax or social security debts (or they have been
paid). If there are heirs living outside the EEA3 or if any
of them are of diminished legal capacity, there are a number of
additional formalities that must be dealt with. Your estates adviser
will tell you everything you need to know in that regard.
1 KBC has calculated this amount based on the statutory conditions, but does not take into account the amount that you may receive from another bank to cover living expenses. If you withdraw or transfer more money in total than the maximum limits provided for by the law, then what you withdraw above these limits will be deducted from your share in the joint assets, common property or estate. Furthermore, you hereby carry out an act of acceptance. This means you can no longer reject the estate, or accept it subject to the 'benefit of inventory'.
2 Residuary legatees are the deceased's descendants, blood relatives in the ascending line (if there are no descendants) and surviving spouse. They are entitled to a certain portion of your estate, which is called the 'reserve'
3 European Union countries, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway
Regulate your succession with the use of a will.
The law stipulates who your heirs are. However, you do have a certain freedom to regulate your succession with the use of a will.
What to do when someone dies
We’re here to provide practical help on the things you need to do.