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Cashing in on death

On 16th June, The Daily Mail reported that banks, specialist probate firms and will-writers were exploiting the public with their probate charges. According to The Daily Mail, they offer cheap Wills, have themselves appointed executor and then charge tens of thousands of pounds for executing the estate.

Research conducted by Which? identified that the fundamental problem was a lack of communication of the facts, combined with the public simply not knowing the options open to them. Most people complained that they were not given full advice about costs, upfront, and were frequently encouraged to appoint the organisation as executors. Which? reported concerns with poor advice given by four of the 12 specialist Will-writing firms it visited. Furthermore, the article highlighted the lack of protection, should things go wrong, when using these unqualified, unregulated and uninsured Will-writing organisations.

Conversely, solicitors came out of the survey in a relatively positive light. Although there were costs, should clients wish to, none of the firms surveyed recommending naming their firm as executor. In fact the research conducted amongst qualified solicitors went on to note that most firms advised that estates could be dealt with by friends and family, with the help of a solicitor for more complex issues, for a fraction of the cost. We couldn't agree more!

Sources: Which? And Money Mail

Firm Cost of Will Cost of administering an estate of £270,000
Barclays £80 £13,395
HSBC £75 £6874
Lloyds/HBOS £119 £10,800
Natwest £100 £12,220
Banks average £85 £10,830
Will writer's average £107 £4759
Solicitors' average £133 £5199

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