We have recently been contacted by a client who has been advised by HSBC that HSBC are transferring their probate services business to a third party known as Simplify Trust Corporation.  We would like to take the opportunity to explain this type of arrangement to our clients and the impact it may have on the administration of their estates in the future.

You may have made a Will via your bank or other lending or financial institution where you have (in some cases inadvertently) appointed that institution as the executor of your Will. This gives the institution control over the administration of your estate, and is likely to be significantly more expensive than employing solicitors to deal with your estate upon your death.  Often, when liaising with these institutions, they will advise that it is standard practice that they automatically become the executors to your Will in order that they retain control.  However, this does not have to be the case. When drafting a Will it is entirely your decision as to whom you would like to appoint as your executor(s).  Most people appoint two responsible individuals from within their close family.  These individuals will then have the option of whether to administer the estate themselves, or ask a solicitor to help them to do so.  If an institution has been appointed as executor then the family will have little say in the administration of the estate and the amount of time taken, therefore making an institution a much less personal decision for your family.
Additional disadvantages of Will writing services as opposed to solicitors are that regulation isn’t the same as for solicitors, so you may well not have the same protection if something goes wrong.  This is because not all will writers are fully legally qualified.  In addition, many of our clients have experienced problems relating to Will writing firms failures to store Wills securely due to several mergers, transfers of service providers (as above) and amendments to their internal systems.
If you have any concerns that a Will writing institution (whether instructed through a financial institution or not) has written your Will and that things may not be as you require, we would be happy to review the Will for you and arrange an appointment to make any amendments that you may require.  Please call Alison Jeffels at the Scarborough office, Noel Barrett at the Whitby office, Victoria Moss at the Bridlington office or Debbie Gibson at the Hunmanby office to arrange an appointment.