New law seeks to limit French bank fees due when account holder dies

Half will not have to pay anything - down from an average €303 at present

Facade of the Banque de France building in Angouleme
French banks charge more than other European banks to close the account of someone who has died

A bill to reduce the fees demanded by French banks for closing the account of someone who has died has been approved by the senate. 

Banks have a duty to perform several actions when they receive notice that their client has died, including freezing the deceased’s accounts, making a declaration to the tax authorities and transfering money to the client’s heirs.

Read more: What are the immediate steps to take after a death in France? 

However, there is no law that governs the price of these services at present, and as a consequence, some banks charge significantly more than others - a fact that can compound the distress of the deceased’s relatives.

Banks in France also charge considerably more on average than other European banks for these services.

Read more: Succession planning in France can highlight cultural differences 

Overall, the average cost of closing a deceased individual's account in France is €303, states a study by consumer magazine UFC-Que Choisir in February 2024. 

The study found that for an inheritance of €20,000, some banks charge as little as €80 and others as much as €527.50 for essentially the same service.

While some banks offer these services for free, they vary widely on their thresholds for applying this, with some doing so only for accounts holding less than €200.

Read more: Where do we pay house inheritance tax in France?

What does the new bill propose?

The bill, which was put forward by Centrist senator Hervé Maurey (Eure) on May 15, proposes to remove these fees entirely in three cases:

  • For the death of a minor: “It is indeed quite intolerable to have to settle bank fees after the death of a child,” agreed Minister of Public Accounts Thomas Cazenave, supporting the bill.

  • For low income: The senate bill set this level at a total of €5,909 across all of an individual’s accounts (excluding stock accounts such as a PEA)

  • For straightforward inheritances: In cases when an individual has only one heir, and the deceased’s accounts “do not present any complexity” and the inheritance does not need to be divided in accordance with Article 734 of the Code civil

The senate also set a maximum fee of 1% of the total on the deceased’s accounts. They also extended the bill to include neobanks, such as Nickel and Revolut.

These changes should ensure that up to 40% of the population do not have to pay any fees to the bank to settle a deceased’s account, and up to 80% of the population should not pay more than €200.

The bill was approved unanimously by the senate, but will require approval in parliament before becoming law.