31 March 2016
Separation - What will happen to your joint and private accounts and assets?
If you are getting a divorce or separating, inform your bank as soon as possible as the administrative formalities that come with this process can take several months. Your bank can then give you advice so that you are not confronted with unpleasant financial surprises.
We cannot describe every possible situation, as much depends on marriage or cohabitation contracts and agreements reached etc. We therefore outline the most common situations. We advise you to discuss this with your bank, lawyer or notary.
You have a joint current account
You most likely manage this account together and do not require each other's permission to carry out transactions. You can take one or more of the following actions:
- revoke the existing mutual power of attorney on the joint account. Both of your signatures are then required for each and every transaction.
- open a new account in your name. You can then use this as your main account for your incomings and outgoings.
- cancel the joint control of the account and have it registered under one of your names. To do this you will need the approval of you both as well as the bank.
- close the account if that is possible (if the balance is positive, no mortgage is linked to it, etc.).
You have a current account in your name
If you are the only holder of the account, nothing changes. Does your ex-partner have power of attorney over your account? You can revoke the power of attorney whenever you want, without his or her permission.
You have power of attorney over your ex-partner's current account
Your ex will remain the only holder of the account, so nothing changes. However, he or she can revoke your power of attorney without your permission. If you have no current account yourself, you would do well to open one in your name.
The same rules apply to the management of your savings accounts as to your current accounts. You should be aware, however, that the assets in a savings account are not automatically yours alone merely because the account is in your name. It is therefore possible from a legal perspective for assets in a savings account to belong to both partners if you separate.
We advise you to seek advice from your bank or your notary.
Bank and credit cards
Bank and credit cards are linked to current accounts. If you close an account, then any bank and credit cards also cease to exist for that account. Enquire at your bank about this.
Note: your bank can only cancel or change cards that it has issued itself. If, for example, you have a store credit card, contact this store to make the necessary changes.
Direct debits and standing orders
If you change accounts and powers of attorney, check all direct debits and standing orders which are potentially linked to it. Change or cancel them to avoid unpaid invoices and overdue notices. You can do this yourself via the online banking service of your bank or by contacting the supplier.
Safe deposit boxes
The same rules and risks apply to safe deposit boxes as to current accounts. If you rent a safe deposit box in your own name, then in principle you do not need to take any action. If you rent a safe deposit box together, it would be best to go to your branch so this can be adjusted.
You can sell any joint investments you have, but this is not at all mandatory. Let your bank know in any case that you are separating. You can then examine with your bank what the best course of action is in your situation.
The general rule is that you are considered to be a single person from the year of the divorce, or more specifically upon registration of the divorce in the registers of the registry office. You must therefore each submit a tax return individually. However, in certain circumstances you need to submit a joint tax return for the year of the divorce. Check which situation (FR) applies to you so that you are not confronted with any unwelcome surprises.
Get in touch with your bank as soon as possible. Think beforehand about what you want to do and, if necessary, use our banking checklist when divorcing or separating (PDF). Make an appointment so that one of our employees can help you discreetly and efficiently.