When a death occurs, the financial institution freezes the accounts of the deceased - and of his spouse in the event of a community of property regime - while waiting to be able to designate with certainty his heirs. To avoid the inconvenience this situation causes to your loved ones and, above all, to prevent it from continuing, take the initiative!
In Belgium, more than 250 million euros are "sleeping" in unused accounts, and several billion life insurance policies have not been claimed. In many cases, the owner of the account or insurance contract has died and the heirs have not come forward. If the deceased was an agent for a company account, death results in the account being blocked only if the deceased was the sole agent of the company.
While determining exactly who are the heirs of the deceased, the financial institution proceeds to block his accounts: those of which he is the holder, those of his spouse if he is married without a marriage contract or in community of property regime, those of which he is co-holder, as well as his life insurance contracts and the safes at his disposal.
To meet urgent expenses after a death, the spouse or legal cohabitant can have half of the blocked funds with a 5.000 euros cap. He or she will have to make a request to the financial institution, which will transfer the funds to an unblocked account. Likewise, on the instruction of the notary or of the beneficiaries, the bank has the authorization to proceed with the payment of certain current debts (rent or mortgage loan, bills for gas, water, electricity, fuel oil, etc.).
To fully unblock the accounts of the deceased, the financial institution must be officially notified by its legal heirs. These must, depending on the case, produce either a certificate of inheritance issued by the Legal Security Office of their municipality, or an act of inheritance issued by a notary. In the case of a corporate account, if the deceased was the sole representative, the designation by the company of a new one will unblock the account.
If the inheritance file is said to be "without particularities", that is to say that there is no marriage or will, and no minor or incapacitated heir, the production of a certificate of inheritance is enough to unblock the accounts. In all other cases, a deed of inheritance is necessary.
The blocking of accounts can, in the legal or community of property regime, constitute an enormous handicap for the surviving spouse, even more when there are many heirs: the request for liquidation and closure of accounts must be signed by all the heirs, which, in the event of disagreement, may take a certain time. If there is no way to avoid this procedure, certain simple measures can nevertheless speed up the release: request the certificate of inheritance as soon as possible, ensure that all the heirs sign the request for the closure and liquidation of the accounts, contact your banker as many times as necessary to proceed with the release.
Some insurances can be released faster than accounts. This is the case with death insurance or life insurance with a designated beneficiary. When the beneficiary is designated, he can liquidate the insurance within a period generally shorter than the release of the accounts. The liquidation of the insurance also avoids having to collect the signatures of all the heirs. It may therefore be wise to plan a contract of this type in order to recover liquidity more quickly.
An account is considered inactive when for at least 5 years no transaction has been recorded on the account and at the same time no contact has taken place between the holder (or the beneficiary, for example an heir) of the account and the financial institution. In this case, the institution transfers the funds to the Public Service "Dormant accounts". In the absence of a will or supporting documents left by the deceased, you could inherit an account that you do not know exists and which therefore risks becoming a "dormant account". It is possible to check online whether you have such an account and, if so, to request a refund. To do this, go to the website www.avoirsdormants.be.
You probably got it: for your heirs, the transfer of accounts and other financial assets can become a real headache. To make their life easier and to plan your own succession peacefully, it may be useful to write a will in which you can also list all your accounts and assets. But be careful, do not put this will in the safe ... because it will also be blocked!
In accordance with what has been explained above, your death will automatically result in the blocking of your easyvest accounts. The custodian institution of your accounts will transmit to the tax authorities all the related information at zero hour of the day of death, that is to say, the value of the assets, the current interest and the transactions carried out but not recorded.
Once the deed of inheritance has been received, your heirs can pass on the instructions for the allocation of funds. These cannot remain in the deceased's account and must either be transferred or liquidated. In the event of a transfer, one or more other accounts must be opened in the name of the beneficiary heir(s). Our advisers will obviously help your heirs in these steps and can also help you open accounts in the name of your children during your lifetime.
This article was written when easyvest was authorized and regulated by the FSMA as an agent in banking and investment services. Today, easyvest is a brand of EASYVEST NV/SA, authorized and regulated by the Belgian Financial Services and Markets Authority, with company number BE0631.809.696, as a portfolio management company and as a broker in insurances, with its registered office in Rue Gachard 59, 1050 Brussels, Belgium. Copyright 2023 EASYVEST NV/SA.