But first of all I must tell you that Sirius's will was discovered a week ago and that he left you everything he owned." ...
"This is, in the main, fairly straightforward," Dumbledore went on. "You add a reasonable amount of gold to your account at Gringotts, and you inherit all of Sirius's personal possessions. The slightly problematic part of the legacy —" (HBP)

  1. It says "to your account" - does that mean it was moved from Sirius Black's vault to Harry's? That's what the Lexicon says but I think the word "account" makes that less certain.

  2. All the other discussions of family vaults (Lestranges') imply that they belong to the family line - does that mean that other Blacks (Narcissa/Bellatrix) would inherit the Sirius' vault? Or would Harry? Or would the vault revert to Gringotts, sans the contents that are moved to Harry's vault?

  • 3
    Hmm. I'm formulating an answer but it's pure speculation. Given the known prejudice against wizards owning goblin property, I find it vanishingly unlikely that the Goblins of Gringotts would allow a family to own a vault outright when they have the option of leasing it to them
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 20:07
  • 1
    @Richard: The discussion at Shell Cottage actually supports the idea that it must be returned to the gobblins. Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 20:38

2 Answers 2


In the Harry Potter world, vaults act more as safety deposit boxes than as accounts. It doesn't seem like the goblins keep a balance or inventory of the contents of vault. Rather people go and add or remove whatever they want from their vaults, without the knowledge of the goblins. There isn't a master ledger.

I think Harry being given the Black vault is the same as if he had received a safety deposit box key from a will. Transferring "to your account" may simply mean that the Black vault now lists Harry as the primary owner.

That being said, if the Black vault and the Potter vault had the same level of security, and Harry's vault had room, the goblins might have chosen to consolidate the two vaults to Harry's vault. This way they don't have to provide him with a second vault key.

Unless something new is revealed in Pottermore, that is all we know.

  • 1
    I find it unlikely that the Goblins would enter (at least openly do so) or move a vault's contents without the express permission of the owner. Given the not so old tension between Goblins and Wizards, as well as the fact a great deal of their clientele would be wealthy upper-class wizards, I find it hard to believe they would be so amicable to the Goblin staff moving their possessions as they saw fit. Some things might even be secret, or highly delicate. Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 0:39
  • 2
    @GetOutOfBox Don't forget this is a world of magic, the goblins might have some proprietary Wizard approved spell which can only be used under strict supervision etc... for shifting items from one vault to another without knowing anything about the contents.
    – Serdalis
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 3:50

Perhaps it is left up to the discretion of the goblins at Gringotts. I'd imagine that in theory Harry would just inherit Sirius's vault, but due to the diligence of the staff, they would probably move all of it to Harry's vault in the name of customer service. Another possibility along these lines is that the new amount of gold (and perhaps other possessions) took up enough space that Harry would need a new, larger vault. Therfore, one's account is constant, but vault can be more fluid than we think. I'd imagine the keys for one vault are magical and would work regardless of the current vault location.

On the second note, I would think that Sirius's dislike for his entire family would give rise to a theory that he aquired his own vault/account separate from the rest of his family. Another thought is rather as he was the last remaining direct heir, Sirius had retained full control of the Black inheritance (he did have Grimmauld Place) and that the wizarding world follows a very strict Hierarchical Father-to-Son type of inheritance scheme.

  • 1
    Given the possibility of magical traps inside any given vault I find it unlikely that the goblins would ever perform such a service, even by request.
    – user8693
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 5:48
  • I would argue that there is just as high a probability that they are the ones that cast the magical traps, or at least they know more about them such that they can manage the "accounts."
    – Aggie Kidd
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 13:40

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