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Written by rosalind renshaw

High street banks are to be investigated by the Office of Fair Trading over the fees they charge for will writing and probate services.
Barclays Bank, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group and RBS Group – the only banks offering will writing and executor services – have all agreed to the review and, where necessary, make improvements within the next six months.

Executor fees of £5,000 to £10,000 are commonly charged by banks for winding up a simple estate, whilst for sizeable estates, the fee may deprive the beneficiaries of large sums of money.

Beneficiaries also find that it can be almost impossible to get rid of the executors named in the will and who are working to fixed – and often enormous – fees.

When people make wills, they are often unaware that there is no need to appoint a bank, or even a solicitor, to act as an executor. Unless an estate is very complicated, it is much cheaper to appoint family members or friends. If they are also beneficiaries, as is allowed, they have a vested interest in keeping costs to a minimum.

The OFT approached the four banks during 2010, believing that some consumers appoint professional executors without fully understanding the likely costs and other options.
The four banks have now agreed to meet three key principles:

*They must not lead customer to believe that appointing a professional executor is necessary or the norm.

*Customers should not be encouraged to appoint a professional executor unless it is clearly in their best interests.

*Will writers must ensure that the customer is fully informed about charges.


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    This article is well overdue! I once worked as an IFA for a Private Bank (one of thise named above) and the pressure to refer to 'sign up' often elderly clients for these executor services was outrageous and soemthing I refused to do. It's a scandal and has led me over the years to always ask new clients to show me their current wills for just this reason. I have often suggested they arrange new wills to avoid these scandalous fees.

    • 28 February 2011 09:34 AM