When someone in Ireland dies, it is their personal representative who distributes their money and property according to the law. Occasionally, difficulties can arise where a bereaved person may need to get access to some of the deceased person's money to pay for funeral expenses. It may also transpire for example, that a dependent spouse/civil partner or children may need to get access for living expenses, at least until a social welfare payment is awarded. It is not easy to get immediate access to the deceased person's money unless it is in a joint account.
There are a range of payments provided by the Department of Social Protection that are available to help out families during this difficult time.
If money in the bank/building society is in the deceased's name only, then you usually cannot get access to it until probate is taken out. If the amount of money is small, the financial institution may release it provided the personal representatives or the next of kin sign an indemnity form. In effect, this is a guarantee that the bank/building society will not be at a loss if there are other claims on the money.
If the account is held jointly with a person other than the deceased's spouse/civil partner (e.g. the deceased's brother or parent) talk to the bank or building society. They may need a statement from the Revenue Commissioners' Capital Taxes Office. This will allow you to transfer money while any possible tax liability, such as Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT), is being examined.
Spouses/civil partners are not liable for CAT on inheritances from each other. You should apply to the Capital Taxes Office of the Revenue Commissioners for a letter of clearance.
If you think the deceased person may have had a dormant bank account, you should contact the financial institution at which the account was held. If that financial institution no longer exists and you want to find out where to make your enquiry or claim, you should contact the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI). Find out more about dormant accounts here.
For accounts in one name only:
Whether there is a will or not, you will need to obtain probate or Letters of Administration from the High Court if the proceeds are more than €10,000.
If the amount involved is less than €10,000, you will not have to wait to take out a grant of probate. All you have to do is get a claim form from any post office and send it with the following:
to the Post Office Savings Bank, Deceased Section. You will be sent a form of indemnity which you will have to sign before a Peace Commissioner or Commissioner for Oaths, or GP, clergyman or member of the Garda Síochána.
If the deceased had a credit union account and had completed a valid Nomination Form, when opening the account, nominating someone as next of kin, the proceeds of the account up to a maximum of €23,000 go to the person or persons nominated on the form. They do not form part of the deceased's estate.
The balance of the account forms part of the deceased's estate and is distributed in accordance with succession law.
If an insurance policy names you as the beneficiary, then you may claim it directly from the insurance company. You need a death certificate. If there is no named beneficiary, then the proceeds form part of the overall estate of the deceased and are distributed with the other assets. Find out about different types of insurance here.
The rules governing occupational and personal pensions vary. If the deceased was a member of a pension scheme, you should contact the employer or former employer or the scheme administrators to find out if there is a pension for the spouse/civil partner and/or children. Self-employed people may have pension arrangements which involve some of the investments becoming part of the deceased's estate.
Divorced people and those whose civil partnership has been dissolved may have access to some part of the pension scheme depending on whether or not a pension adjustment order was made at the time of the divorce/dissolution.
The Pensions Authority have a series of leaflets on pension matters for scheme members. There is more information on pensions here.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.