Access to money after a death
When a person dies, their property passes to their personal representative. This is usually a close family member. The personal representative then distributes the deceased’s person’s assets (money, possessions and property) in accordance with the law, the will - if there is one - or the laws of intestacy if there is no will. These assets are described as the deceased person’s estate.
You may need access to some of the deceased person's money to pay for funeral expenses. Many banks have arrangements in place to help pay for funeral expenses from the deceased person’s account (you should contact the bank to find out more).
You may also need to get access for living expenses, at least until a social welfare payment is awarded. There is a range of payments provided by the Department of Social Protection (DSP) that are available to help families during this difficult time.
Money in bank accounts
If money is held in the deceased person’s name only, then family members usually cannot get access until probate is granted to the personal representative. But if the amount in an account is small, the bank may release it to the personal representative or the next of kin.
Bank accounts in joint names
If the bank account is in the joint names of your loved one and their spouse or civil partner, the money can usually be transferred into the surviving spouse or civil partner’s name. You will need the death certificate to do this.
If the bank account is in the joint names of the deceased person and someone else, and the bank was given instructions when the account was opened that the other person was to receive the money on the death of the deceased, the money can be transferred into the survivor’s name.
If there is an account with more than €50,000, you will also need a letter of clearance from Revenue allowing the money to be transferred to the surviving account holder, pending investigations about Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT). CAT is a form of inheritance tax. Spouses and civil partners are not liable for CAT on inheritances from each other.
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).
Post Office and state savings
For post office accounts, you should contact An Post.
State savings and prize bonds
If the deceased person held prize bonds and no other State Savings products, then you should send a letter notifying of the holder's death and the documents listed below to: State Savings, Prize Bonds, Fexco Centre, Killorglin, FREEPOST, Co. Kerry, V93 WN9T.
If they had other state savings, you should notify An Post.
Credit union accounts
If the deceased person had a credit union account and completed a valid nomination form when opening the account, the money in the account, up to a maximum of €23,000, goes to the nominated person or persons.
Any remaining balance forms part of the deceased’s estate and is distributed in accordance with the person’s will or the law on succession.
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.
Occupational and personal pensions
The rules governing occupational pensions and personal pensions depend on the terms of the pension. If your loved one was a member of a pension scheme, you should contact 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 that involve some of the investments becoming part of the estate when the person dies.
Divorced people and people whose civil partnership has been dissolved may have access to some part of the pension scheme depending on whether a pension adjustment order was made at the time of the divorce or dissolution.