After inheriting, what happens to accounts?


When an account-holder dies, and after the tedious paperwork involved in processing the will, settling taxes and distributing the estate, the time comes to see what happens with the deposits of the deceased in one or several banks.

When the sole holder was the deceased person, the heirs have two options:

  • To request a transfer of title from the bank, such that the heirs will appear as the new holders.
  • To request that the account be closed.

The criteria set by the Banco de España for these cases state that banks, as expert professionals in their field of operation, must have the means to reflect this situation and thus facilitate compliance with the provisions of the will.

Therefore, banks should not hinder or impede — for instance, by citing operational reasons — the resolution of the heirs’ request, whether for a transfer of title or for closing the account.

In the case of jointly held accounts, the heirs can request that the deceased be replaced or that the account be closed. Either option must be requested of the bank both by the heirs and by the co-holders. (*) That is, unless the account contract expressly provides otherwise with regard to closing the account in the event of the death of the holder or of one of the holders.

However, it may be that the bank refuses to transfer ownership of the account from the deceased to the heirs and wishes to open a new account instead. In such a case, it should be borne in mind that:

  • To open a bank account, the bank needs the customer’s consent through his or her signature.
  • If a bank wishes to close an account, it must generally give all heirs a two-month notice period.


And remember, if you have any doubts about the administration of an estate, you can visit our section on “Inheritances” and the various posts published previously on this subject.

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