New measures for account co-holders of a bank account
Since December 8, 2022, spouses or ex-spouses who have a joint demand deposit account can access their share of a joint account’s balance more easily in the event one of them dies.
If you are in a de facto union and your spouse dies, you will not be legally recognized as your spouse's heir. The same applies, in reverse, if you die.
However, you and your spouse can take certain steps to protect the surviving spouse, for example by making a will or taking out life insurance.
If you wish to leave some of your property to your de facto spouse, such as your share of the family home, you must specify this in your will.
If nothing is mentioned in your will, your property will be divided between your heirs using the rules of succession. Your de facto spouse could end up as a co-owner of your home with your children or parents.
If you have life insurance and wish your de facto spouse to benefit if you die, you must designate him or her as your beneficiary.
If you fail to do this, the proceeds from your life insurance policy will form part of your succession and will be shared between your heirs, who are blood relatives such as your children or parents.
You and your de facto spouse should take various steps to protect the surviving spouse if one of you dies. For example, you should:
- prepare and keep up to date an inventory of your personal property and debts, including your bank accounts, life insurance policies, investment details and, if applicable, contact information for any resource persons;
- keep a personal bank account, because your joint account will be frozen if one of the co-holders dies. However, the financial institution must remit to the surviving spouse or the liquidator of the succession, at their written request, the share of the account balance they are entitled to;
- indicate to your financial institution who owns what share of the joint bank account’s balance so that the institution can remit to the surviving spouse their share if they request it. If this information is not declared, the surviving spouse will be entitled to half of the account balance;
- clearly establish who owns any property (such as cash or jewelry) you keep in a joint safety deposit box, for example by preparing an inventory.