Garton & Harris

How to transfer bank accounts in estate administration

Individuals who act as executors have a tremendous amount of responsibility, and it's common to not quite know where to start. One of the first questions British Columbia executors may have in estate administration is how to transfer bank accounts in order to take control of the estate. While there are several ways this may happen, ultimately it comes down to providing adequate proof and paperwork to the bank. The bank must be able to confirm that the recipient has sufficient permissions and will also require proof that the original holder is in fact deceased.

One of the easiest ways to prepare for a smooth transition is for an individual to set up a Payable on Death (POD) or Transferable on Death (TOD) directly with the bank. If this is established, the bank will know to release funds to the person named once they receive confirmation of the person's death. This is usually the easiest way of transferring a bank account.

Another straight-forward method is to have a shared bank account. Joint accounts typically include automatic rights of survivorship, so the co-owner would automatically take full ownership. This can be helpful for couples who need uninterrupted access to shared funds. It's worthwhile to double check with the bank that this is in fact the case, as some banks might freeze accounts upon one co-owner's death.

While these methods are all helpful, it is ultimately advantageous to have wishes clearly spelled out in a will as well. It is also important to avoid having a will that contradicts POD or TOD agreements. Executors facing challenges with bank account transfers in estate administration should work with a British Columbia lawyer to understand the best solution.

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