LEGAL EAGLE: Banking changes hide a bigger picture

Andrew Steel of Tilly Bailey Irvine.
Andrew Steel of Tilly Bailey Irvine.

Some of the largest banks on our High Street have been recently announcing vast changes in the way they deal with the accounts of people who have died.

It was formerly the case that if you had in excess of £5,000 in an account you would need to obtain a Grant of Probate.

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In very small estates this was becoming increasingly disproportionate in terms of fees involved (both Court Fees and Legal Fees) and also disproportionate in the time having to be spent dealing with such legal paperwork at a very upsetting and stressful time in people’s lives.

Matters have now changed with most High Street banks changing their limits, for instance the limit is now £50,000 at Lloyds and up to £25,000 at the Royal Bank of Scotland.

However, the job of an Executor in the Administration of an Estate is more than just the case of closing bank accounts.

An executor is liable to ensure that all tax forms are completed fully and that any and all taxes are paid.

They are also fully responsible to the beneficiaries for their actions and if they do make an error in the administration they would be personally liable (including financially) to put right this mistake.

In modern times we are always being told that we can do things ourselves and guides to do everything and anything are available on the internet.

I personally as a solicitor would not go to my local DIY shop and buy myself some equipment with which to re-wire my home as I do not have the relevant skills and qualifications to do this.

Although electrical work is obviously more physically dangerous than legal work, it is always recommended that a legally qualified person should deal with the preparation of legal papers.

Added to this, increasingly, large bodies are taking on Probate work and such organisations can be remote from the area and may not be as highly qualified and as regulated as your local solicitor.

Here at Tilly Bailey and Irvine we offer a free 30 minute appointment where we can guide you as to what is involved in the administration of an estate and what steps are necessary.

We have Probate specialists across all of our offices and also offer late night openings at our Hartlepool and Stockton branches.