Everyone likes a bargain and there is no better bargain than absolutely free …
However remember the old adage, “if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is”. You may find that free will-writing services come with more than a little price to pay.
It is believed that up to 1.5 million customers used free will writing services in the late 1990s and early 2000s largely because a free Will was offered as a “perk” for signing up to insurance or fee charging accounts. The customers were encouraged to appoint the bank as executors in the Will – meaning that the bank would be responsible for administering the estate. In return, the bank would be entitled to charge a “fee” for undertaking this work, usually derived by charging a percentage of the gross value of the estate.
This practice can lead to some eye watering charges which on the face of it cannot be justified.
For example, an individual dies leaving an estate of £500,000.00, the balance being held within two accounts at the same bank. If we assume the bank charges a fee of 1.5% to administer the estate, a charge of £7,500.00 (probably excluding VAT) may be payable for applying for probate, settling the liabilities and distributing the balance to the beneficiaries. Is this fee proportionate to the work undertaken by the bank, I think not.
A recent High Court decision also suggests that the beneficiaries of an estate will have little say, if any, as to what professional executors charge. The moral of the story is.…….choose your executors wisely.
There are instances when the appointment of professional executors can be appropriate. For example, there may be no surviving family members and the individual is conscious of bestowing a potentially onerous task on a friend or colleague. Or there may be a rift within the family and a neutral party is preferred to ensure matters are brought to a conclusion swiftly.
As Solicitors, we are required by our Code of Conduct to offer you impartial advice as to the implications of appointing professional Executors and give an illustration of the cost involved. You can then make an informed decision whether or not a professional executor is right for you.
If you have any concerns about the executors appointed within your Will(s) or wish to discuss your Wills in general you can contact Chris Gilbert on 01872 241414 or firstname.lastname@example.org.