Joint Bank Accounts Now Easier to Access When a Spouse Dies

In the News

Do you have a joint bank account with your spouse or ex-spouse? A new law, which came into effect on December 8, 2022, makes it much easier and quicker for a surviving spouse or ex-spouse to have access to their share upon the other’s death.

The couples and the conditions involved

The following couples are covered by this new measure:

  • couples who are legally married
  • couples in a civil union
  • couples in a common-law (also known as “de facto”) relationship

Ex-couples who still had a joint bank account also benefit from this new measure.

Prior to the person’s death, the account must have allowed either of you to withdraw — at any time –the entire amount of funds in the account. The two of you must have been the only holders of the account at the time the person died.

The date on which the account was opened does not matter.

Receiving your share

To receive your share of the account, you must submit a written request to the bank. The person in charge of settling the estate (known as the “liquidator” or “executor”) can also submit a request to receive the deceased’s share. In this situation, the bank must also give you your share.

Your share of the account is determined with the bank in a written declaration. If there is no declaration establishing that the shares were unequal, you will receive half of the funds in the account.


The declaration only serves to determine your share of the account upon the death of the other person. It has nothing to do with the amount you could have withdrawn while the person was alive. In addition, other factors may influence the division of the funds in the account at the time of death, for example a divorce judgement, if there was one.

For more information on the steps to take after the death of a loved one, see our article Important Things to Do When Someone Dies.