Wills with HSBC

Wills with HSBC (Important Announcement)

Have you made a Will with HSBC? Have you appointed HSBC as your Executors? If so, you might need to take some action.

HSBC are selling their probate services to a company called Simplify. They may have written to you to this effect.

The sale is expected to conclude in October. After that date HSBC will no longer act as your Executor when you die. They will “renounce” their Executorship which will leave your beneficiaries unexpectedly having to step in and administer your estate, unless you update your Will.

HSBC have written to their customers suggesting you make a Codicil to appoint Simplify as your new Executors. No information about their charges has been supplied. You cannot make an informed decision on this without knowing what Simplify will charge your estate for acting as Executor. In many cases it is often not appropriate to have a company as your Executor.

A major concern is that Simplify is not regulated by the Financial Services Authority, the Solicitors Regulation Authority or any other regulatory body. This means they are not subject to rules on the way they can behave or the charges they can make. There is no information about their staff and whether they are qualified. Simplify will not have to act within usual expected parameters for this type of service and your beneficiaries have no right of complaint if things go wrong.

The other suggestion offered by HSBC is to sign a Codicil to appoint an individual as your new Executor. It is important that you review the whole of your Will before taking this action.

HSBC have sent two blank template Codicils with very little guidance. There are strict rules about signing Wills and Codicils and who can or cannot be a witness. If the Codicil is not completed properly, it may not be valid in any case.

HSBC have also stated that changes to their standard Codicil should not be made. However, the document states it will not come into effect until the transfer of HSBC’s probate business to Simplify, referring to documents which you are not privy to.

HSBC have also stated that you must appoint your new Executor before the end of July. This is an unrealistic timescale and has no legal standing.

You do need to be aware of the consequences if you take no action and you are also entitled to take much longer to make a decision than the meagre few weeks offered by HSBC. Your Will is often the most important document you will ever sign.

If you know someone has received a letter from HSBC or has a Will with them but is no longer able to make decisions, there are also options available and we may be able to help.

If you are worried about this situation, please make an appointment to see your Solicitor who will take you through the options and how they affect you.

Please contact a member of our Private Client team

Eastbourne: 01323 727321

Meads: 01323 407577

Hailsham: 01323 841481

Polegate: 01323 487051