HSBC recently announced that they have sold their wills and probate business, HSBC Trust Co (UK) Ltd, to a company called Simplify Channel Ltd. The sale appears to be due to complete in October 2015.
Many people who made wills with HSBC will have appointed HSBC to act as their executors. We understand from press releases that HSBC has been sending letters to their clients inviting them to sign a pre-prepared codicil (i.e. an amendment to their will) appointing Simplify Channel Ltd to act as their executors in place of HSBC. If so, this would be quite an unusual step to take, in our view.
The appointment of executors is an important decision and one that should be considered carefully. The appointment of a professional executor, such as a bank or solicitor, may be entirely appropriate in many cases, but it will often be more appropriate to appoint a close family relative (preferably more than one), such as your children or your spouse, to act as executor instead. Whoever you choose to appoint, you need to be confident that your executor will be someone you can trust to manage your affairs effectively after you have died and to act in the best interests of your family at all times. We would recommend that former customers of HSBC carry out research on Simplify Channel Ltd and its parent company Chorus Law Ltd (formerly known as Independent Trust Corporation Ltd and ITC Holdings (UK) Ltd), to satisfy themselves that they will, in all the circumstances, be the most suitable appointment as executor of their will and, if so, to make enquiries as to the costs of their services. Customers of any legal service should always enquire about how that firm's business is regulated, if at all, and which body they will be able to seek redress from if things go wrong.
We would always urge people to seek legal advice from a firm of solicitors. All solicitors in the England and Wales are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to ensure that they maintain the requisite level of skill and service. They are obliged to maintain adequate professional indemnity insurance and complaints about poor service can be referred to an independent body, the Legal Ombudsman, who will order compensation to be paid in appropriate cases.
At Clapham & Collinge, we have a large and experienced team of solicitors and would be pleased to discuss this or any other aspect of will drafting with you. For more information, please contact Ben Lowe on 01603 693582 or email firstname.lastname@example.org