HSBC no longer providing probate services

HSBC Bank – or, strictly, HSBC Trust Company (UK) Limited – has decided that it will no longer offer probate services.  In some ways, this is a good sign: bank trustee companies have always been expensive and (in our view) non-responsive, and if you need a professional as an executor, it is usually better to appoint your accountant or lawyer, rather than your bank.  Contrary to the impression some lawyers give, it is not necessarily advisable (and certainly not a legal requirement) to appoint a lawyer as an executor – they try to create that impression so they are appointed and get to handle the probate work.  In most cases, it is better that the residuary beneficiaries, or adults with those beneficiaries’ interests at heart, are appointed.

Sometimes, it is useful to have a professional as a trustee, to step between arguing siblings, for instance, but in those cases we recommend appointing your accountant – who will have a good idea of the range of your assets and interests – or a lawyer. We very rarely suggest appointing a bank, not least because the bank would insist on being the only trustee, making it very difficult to keep an eye on progress.

HSBC has decided to get out of the field altogether – presumably, the changes in the market have made it non-viable to compete with accountants (who can now do probate work directly) or lawyers, either of whom will be less expensive – still less with the increasing number of people who decide to do the work themselves.  HSBC is therefore writing to its customers who had appointed the bank as executor to tell them they won’t do it after all. Instead, HSBC has transferred its probate services business to Simplify Trust Corporation, apparently a part of Simplify Channel Limited, and is encouraging its customers to appoint Simplify instead.

If you are one of those affected, you may want to take the opportunity to review your Will generally, as other changes may be appropriate, and you may not want to appoint Simplify without considering your options.

Nelson McLean offers a free Will review service: just phone or email us to make an appointment and we will spend up to half an hour reviewing your existing Will with you and discussing what best suits your circumstances. If you then want to amend your Will or make a new one (or don’t already have one), we will be happy to do that for you – at less cost and hassle than most people expect: we reckon that most Wills we prepare can be dealt with in a fortnight following a discussion of half an hour to an hour, and at a cost of £250 for a married couple or civil partnership’s pair of Wills – less for a single Will on its own.

Whether HSBC is trying to pass your business on to Simplify, or you simply want to review an existing Will, come and see us to discuss this free of charge. You can then decide what to do once you know what options you have and what they are likely to cost you.

Phone us now to make an appointment: 01580 767117

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