Four years after spouse's death, Sask. man recovers money from PayPal account

When Darwin Wagner's husband, author Wesley Funk, died four years ago, Wagner began going through the motions to close his husband's estate.

But closing Funk's PayPal account turned out to be more of a challenge than the Saskatoon man bargained for.

Earlier this week, CBC News reported that 73-year-old B.C. woman Wendy Pelech also went through months of wrangling to get money from the online payment company after her husband died nine months ago, leaving roughly $800 in his PayPal wallet.

After CBC's story, PayPal returned the money to Pelech.

That story caught Wagner's attention, as he too ran into issues reclaiming his late husband's money. 

Both Wagner and Pelech say they had all of the documents needed to close their partners' accounts, and had sent them to PayPal. Both say they found themselves stuck in a cycle of phone calls and promises that were broken.

After four years, Wagner also eventually recovered the funds in Funk's PayPal wallet — but again, only after the company was contacted by CBC News.

"I think the first two years, I was calling every month, when I'm doing my books at month end," Wagner said. 

"Then I just kind of slacked off, debating whether I should let it go, and then I thought, 'no, I can't' — it's a legal responsibility, and you're dealing with Revenue Canada as well."

Funk received payments for his books through his PayPal account, Wagner said.

Wagner's lawyer confirmed copies of Funk's death certificate, will and identification were sent to PayPal numerous times.

He said eventually, he was told not to call PayPal again and described interactions with the company as "cold." 

He let the matter go until June of this year, Wagner said, when he wrote to PayPal and asked for a response within 30 days. 

Until Friday's confirmation the funds in Funk's digital wallet — a total of $39 — would be released to him, Wagner said he never heard back from them. 

Chanss Lagaden/CBC

Wagner said he is still confused as to why PayPal made it so difficult to retrieve such a small amount of money, when banks and insurance companies dealt with closing Funk's estate quite easily, but that he's "elated" to finally close the account.

"That was the objective, not the money," Wagner said. "It is closure — finally."

When asked to provide a comment on the situation, PayPal confirmed it had been remedied.

"After a thorough investigation by our customer service team, it was determined that an error took place during the processing of the documentation," the statement said. 

"With sincere apologies for the frustration this has caused, our teams have contacted Mr. Wagner and transferred the requested funds."