Q – My husband died recently and he left me details of all his savings accounts. Unfortunately, when I tried to withdraw some money from one of those accounts, I was told that I need to get in touch with the Revenue Commissioners before any money can be released. Is this correct and why so? Will I be liable for any outstanding tax bill of my husband’s which he may not have cleared before he passed away ? Mary – Wicklow

A – My sympathy Mary on your recent sad loss. If the bank accounts were in your joint names then you should not have any difficulty in getting use of the funds. Simply produce the death certificate and the details will be recorded but you could access all monies. If however the accounts were in your husband’s sole name then a difficulty arises. If he left a Will then all his assets, including bank accounts, form part of his estate and the banks will be obliged to freeze the accounts until the will has been admitted to Probate and the executors of the Will give them instructions as to the disposal of the monies. If there was no Will – intestate – then you will have to apply for Letters of Administration from the High Court to enable you to get access to the bank accounts. As part of this process, you will get a certificate from the Revenue Commissioners clarifying your late husband’s tax position and if it is found that there is tax outstanding then this will have to be cleared. You will not be personally liable for any tax liabilities but the Revenue will have to be cleared before you can proceed to distributing the estate. It is a relatively simple task you should first undertake yourself to save substantial legal fees.

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