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Many bank wills include instructions to appoint the bank as an executor, which leads to the estate paying out between £3,000 and £9,000 in costs for work that someone in the family could undertake for free.
After intervention by the Office of Fair Trading, banks are explaining to customers that they do not need to appoint them as a professional executor if they opt for their will-writing services.
Barclays Bank, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group and RBS Group have all voluntarily agreed to review and, where necessary, improve the way they sell will-writing and executor services.
The OFT approached the banks last year as part of a wider initiative to improve the will-writing market for customers and their beneficiaries, following concerns that some consumers were appointing professional executors without fully understanding the likely costs and the alternative options.
The banks have agreed three key principles to help customers make informed decisions about their wills:
1) Consumers making a will should not be led to believe that appointing a professional executor is essential or the norm.
2) Consumers should not be encouraged to appoint a professional executor unless it is clearly in their best interests.
3) Providers should understand the options around executor appointments and be aware of the likely basis of charging for the professional executor service.
The OFT’s David Stallibrass said: “The wrong decision when appointing executors could mean a potentially expensive professional service is chosen, when a family member or friend may be quite capable of handling the task either alone or with professional support.
“We are pleased that each of the banks has agreed to review its selling practices and marketing literature to ensure customers are getting the information they need to make informed choices.”
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