Accessing Bank Accounts of the Deceased


If a bank account is not used for a prescribed period of time, the dormant account is transferred to the Bank of Canada. If you want to determine whether or not there are dormant accounts in the name of the Deceased, you will need to contact the Bank of Canada so that they can inform you of the legal documentation they require to process your claim.

You can contact them through their website by going to:


Contact all banks and financial institutions that you are aware of. Inform them of the death and request that they provide you with a detailed list indicating:

  • Account numbers for all bank accounts.
  • Current balances for all bank accounts.
  • Investment details including the nature, type, amount of investment, and reference number.
  • Any bank loans, mortgages, or other indebtedness in favour of the bank and details (type, amount of indebtedness, and reference number).
  • Whether or not there is a safety deposit box and if so, the number.


Most banks will allow the funeral bill to be paid out of an account held by the Deceased. In many cases they will also allow for the payment of routine household expenses and certain other bill to be paid.


Depending on the nature of the investments held in a particular bank and depending on the amount of those investments, the bank may or may not release the Estate’s assets to the Executor or to a Solicitor acting for the Estate without the requirement of obtaining a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee (Probate). Each bank has their own policies in this regard. The policies are not rigid and seem to vary from branch to branch.


Once the bank has been advised of the death, their system will cancel any bankcards that were assigned to the Deceased. Although it is not necessary to return the actual card(s), to avoid the risk of misuse of a bankcard, all bankcards should be cut into pieces and returned to the appropriate bank with a letter. Find out from each bank the Deceased dealt with what their particular policy is in relation to the return of bankcards.


Determine whether or not there is someone who was joint on the safety deposit box who is still alive and can authorize access to the box. If not, the bank will tell you their requirements for you to remove the contents of the box. The practice varies from bank to bank. Some banks may require that you obtain Probate before they will release the contents of the safety deposit box to you.


Some banks will allow an Executor to open an Estate account; however, this practice is becoming more and more restrictive. The bank account of the Deceased may be left open until all cheques that you expect to receive following the death have been deposited. Most banks will allow funds to be released from the bank account to cover court fees, funeral expenses and, in some cases, house expenses.


Feel free to contact us at any point for assistance or advice on Estate Law, Estate Planning, Estate Administration or Estate Litigation. We may be reached at 705-435-4339 / 1-877-85LEGAL (1-877-855-3425) or contact us via email.

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