Individual account with power of attorney or partner account
In the event of the death of a joint account holder, all assets and debts are transferred to the heirs. The heirs form a community of heirs and become a contractual partner of PostFinance. Find out how PostFinance protects the interests of heirs and protects accounts from unauthorized access.
Death certificate (or medical certificate of death)
The death certificate indicates the place and date of the death, as well as the particulars of the deceased. Death certificates show the registry office of the place of death (not the place of residence or place of birth). If no inheritance certificate (see below) is available, please send one of the following documents to PostFinance:
- A copy of the death certificate along with a copy of the family identity document (to be obtained from the registry office at the place of birth), or
- Another official document which indicates the deceased’s family relations, along with copies of the official identity documents of all the persons mentioned there
All persons entitled to inheritance are listed on the inheritance certificate. The heirs require this document to identify themselves to the authorities and third parties. Enquire at the deceased’s municipality of residence as to which cantonal authority is responsible for issuing the inheritance certificate. Send a copy of this document to PostFinance.
Inheritance authorization (also power of attorney)
The community of heirs can only have the estate at their disposal collectively. All the heirs must personally sign each and every order. Alternatively the community of heirs can issue one or more persons with a power of attorney. This can help reduce the administrative costs and make paying outstanding invoices easier. This is especially recommended for communities of heirs which have difficulties collecting all the signatures, for example if several of the heirs live abroad.
As far as PostFinance is concerned, each individual heir, as well as the community of heirs as a whole, has the following rights:
- Right to obtain information (e.g. account statement as at the date of death)
- Right to revoke an authorization
- Right to block the account
These rights are afforded to heirs if they can legitimately prove themselves as such, for example by means of an inheritance certificate. It is fundamentally the heirs’ responsibility to carry out the division of the estate, i.e. to implement the last will of the deceased and to divide the assets.
An inventory of the estate contains information about the value of the estate. Every heir can demand a document of this type. In certain cantons an inventory of the estate is created automatically. To this end, the relevant cantonal office requires all the assets and liabilities of the deceased.
You can ask the PostFinance Estate Competence Center for an account statement at the date of death and, upon request, a mortgage debt overview. You can contact our support team from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. by calling +41 58 667 98 65.
If you do not possess a power of attorney for an account, send one of the following legitimation documents to PostFinance:
- Marriage certificate
- Family identity document (available from place of residence)
If the heirs come into an inheritance, the relevant cantonal office will, upon request, provide them with an inheritance certificate. This document allows the heirs to fundamentally control the estate. It can take a long time to draw up the inheritance certificate and it must also be paid for.
Every financial institution is obliged to check the community of heirs and to protect their interests. For this reason, individual heirs may not be treated preferentially. PostFinance has to check the entire community of heirs. This can only be done with an inheritance certificate. This is to be sent to PostFinance upon request.
In the event of the death of a contractual partner, all assets and debts (liabilities) are transferred to his heirs. The heirs form a community of heirs and become a contractual partner of PostFinance. Upon the death of the account holder, the community of heirs takes his place legally. The community of heirs is formed by law – without the assistance of the heirs and regardless of whether or not they are aware of the death of the account holder. Every financial institution must protect the interests of the heirs and protect accounts from unauthorized access. Orders and directives must always be in the interest of the heirs. For this reason, PostFinance exercises comprehensive due diligence in respect of all heirs and can block accounts until it can determine who is authorized to access the relevant account.
Powers of attorney for an account fundamentally remain valid after death. This is stated in the PostFinance power of attorney regulations. The following must also be considered:
- An heir, the community of heirs, the bereaved spouse or an authorized third party (e.g. an inheritance administrator or a judge) can freeze the account, for example if the division of the estate is disputed.
- Based on its legal obligations, PostFinance checks whether or not specific measures are necessary in individual cases (see the question “What special measures can PostFinance take and how are they communicated?”).
PostFinance advises anybody who holds a partner account to also manage their own account and to reciprocally issue a power of attorney. This ensures that the surviving partner can still access their own assets until the division of the estate is complete and is not suddenly left without access to cash.
If a joint account holder dies, the surviving party cannot convert the partner account into an individual account in their own name. They require a new individual account instead. After opening this account, the balance of the partner account can be transferred to the individual account and the partner account can be closed.
Measures are communicated to the bereaved in the “Right of disposal over the account” letter once the death has been processed. This letter explains which documents are required and which measures have been taken with regard to the services (e.g. account restrictions).
In the case of significant assets, access will be only granted to part of the assets despite possession of a power of attorney. This will be communicated in the letter with the following sentence: “You will not be able to access the entire assets until we receive all of the documents.” In such a case, all credits to the accounts will also be blocked until PostFinance receives the required documents. These precautionary measures are taken in order to protect the interests of the heirs.
If PostFinance notifies you that not all assets can be accessed, you can obtain the available balance of the accounts in the following locations:
- In e-finance under “Transaction overview”, “Order overview” or “Account transfer”
- At Postomats
- In the PostFinance App
- Via the Estate Competence Center by calling +41 58 667 98 65
The booking balance and therefore the total assets without the blocked amounts can be viewed on the account statement and in the assets view in e-finance.
In the event of the death of a contractual partner, all assets and debts (liabilities) are transferred to the heirs, who form a community of heirs and become a contractual partner of PostFinance. Upon the death of the account holder, the community of heirs legally takes the place of the account holder. The community of heirs is formed by law – without the assistance of the heirs and regardless of whether or not they are aware of the death of the account holder. Every financial institution must protect the interests of the heirs and protect accounts from unauthorized access. Orders and directives must always be in the interest of the heirs. For this reason, PostFinance exercises comprehensive due diligence in respect of the heirs and can block accounts until it can determine who is authorized to access the relevant account.
PostFinance advises anyone who holds a partner account to also manage an individual account and to reciprocally issue a full authorization to this account. This ensures that the surviving person can still access their own assets until the division of the estate is complete and is not suddenly left without access to cash.