Sadly my wife is terminally ill and it is very possible that she may pass away in the next few weeks. I have heard that when this happens the bank will freeze our accounts. Is this true? Is there anything I can do?
Thank you for your query.
In first place we are very sorry to hear the news and we send you and your wife our deepest affection.
Secondly we would like to point out as we have done in previous occasions, that everyone should have an updated Spanish Will as doing so will safe you: time, expenses and taxes at the time of dealing with an Inheritance.
In reference with your query, it is true that the banks will proceed to freeze the accounts once they have knowledge that the holder or co-holder has deceased. This can lead to serious problems as in many occasions the heirs will need the money to deal with funeral expenses, inheritance, utility payments, regular expenses, etc.
The reason for the banks to block the accounts is that according to article number 8 of the Inheritance Tax Law 29/1987 (Ley 29/1987del Impuesto sobre Sucesiones y Donaciones, (LISD) if the bank releases the money or securities held when the Inheritance tax (IHT) has not been paid, they will be subsidiary responsible for this Tax, although it is also true that the Law allows the bank to provide the money to the beneficiaries for the payment of the IHT.
For this reason the bank will protect itself and block the accounts as soon as they have knowledge of the death of the account holder. This is done in order to avoid any tax liability and also to prevent the tax authorities from claiming against the bank for any Inheritance Taxes not paid by the heirs.
In reference to what can be done in your case and since unfortunately your wife’s death seems eminent, you could open a bank account under your sole name and transfer the monies to this new account as well as any direct debit orders, contracts, etc, in order for you to be able to have the funds available without prejudice of paying the taxes due for the money belonging to your wife.
In some other cases when the person has passed away leaving opened accounts, if the beneficiaries need the money and are co-signer in the account it is possible, in some occasions, to take the money from the bank subject to declaring the amount that was in the account at the time of death of the deceased and that the applicable taxes are paid. This of course will not be possible if you inform the bank because as we have previously stated the bank will freeze the accounts.
In general in the event that a family member passes away or is expected to pass away we advise you to consult with your lawyer in order for him to be able to advice you on the steps to be followed.
The information provided on this article is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues.
White & Baos
Tel: 966 426 185
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